Health IT roundup—ECRI, Pew ask ONC to support health IT safety collaborative; VA taps UPMC executive to lead API pledge

A doctor sitting at his desk working on a laptop computer.
ECRI, Pew and several other groups want support from officials at ONC and AHRQ to build a clearinghouse to track health IT safety. (Getty/monkeybusinessimages)

Patient safety groups call on feds to support health IT collaborative

Officials with the Alliance for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety (AQIPS), the Bipartisan Policy Center, the ECRI Institute and The Pew Charitable Trusts have asked two federal agencies to support efforts to create a health IT safety collaborative.

In a letter to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s (ONC) Don Rucker, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Director Gopal Khanna, the four groups said they are launching a National Health IT Safety Collaborative that will serve as a “clearinghouse for health IT safety tools” and collect data on emerging risks. The groups asked for the backing of ONC and AHRQ and requested both agencies sent representatives to help engage sector stakeholders. (Letter)

Shulkin taps UPMC innovation officer to lead API initiative

Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, M.D., has asked Rasu Shrestha, M.D., the chief innovation officer at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) to lead the agency’s open API pledge.

The pledge, announced by Shulkin earlier this month, encourages health providers to work with the VA to “accelerate the mapping of health data to industry standards.” In conjunction with that announcement, the VA also launched a beta version of Lighthouse Labs which provides software developers access to tools to create mobile apps.

Shrestha will lead the effort that has already received a commitment from 11 providers including UPMC, the Cleveland Clinic the Mayo Clinic and Intermountain Healthcare. (Release)

Amazon hires former FDA official for health technology business

Amazon has added Taha Kass-Hout, the Food and Drug Administration’s former chief health informatics officer, to work on the company’s healthcare technology business, CNBC reports.

RELATED: Amazon’s healthcare plans could include a data warehouse, emphasis on digital tools

Kass-Hout, who has also worked at the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) and Trinity Health in Michigan, specializes in health informatics but brings significant regulatory knowledge from his time at FDA. He will reportedly serve in a business development role focusing on healthcare projects. (CNBC)

CHIME outlines recommendations for addressing opioid abuse

In a letter to top lawmakers on the House Committee on Ways and Means, the College of Health Information Management Executives (CHIME) called for better prescription data sharing and broader use of telehealth for opioid treatment.

Those were just two of the six recommendations outlined by the health IT advocacy group. CHIME officials pointed to inconsistent patient matching strategies and challenges integrating EHRs with data from prescription drug monitoring programs as the biggest barriers to sharing data with CMS. The organization also advocated for the use of clinical decision support to assist clinicians with writing appropriate prescriptions and argued that federally qualified health centers should be allowed to bill Medicare for telehealth visits to treat opioid addiction. CHIME pushed for a change to 42 CFR Part 2 which handcuffs providers from sharing substance abuse data. (Letter)

Interoperability report offers 51 recommendations for VA’s Cerner contract

Recently embattled VA Secretary David Shulkin, M.D., told lawmakers last week that he “deeply regrets” his role in agency’s recent distractions, and vowed to “improve the lives of veterans.”

He also offered an update on the ongoing negotiations with Cerner to overhaul the system’s EHR. He told the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction that and independent interoperability report by MITRE offered 51 recommendations, which the VA is currently building into its contract with Cerner. Shulkin also said the VA plans to apply lessons learned from the Department of Defense to ensure a “smoother implementation.”

Meanwhile, there seems to be some discrepancy about the final cost of the Cerner implementation. While the contract has been previously estimated at $10 billion, during last week’s hearing, two lawmakers referenced figures as high as $16 billion. (Hearing)

Obama CTO says CMS effort to release data doesn’t come with an “easy button”

Former U.S. chief technology officer under President Barack Obama and the CareJounrney President Asheesh Chopra praised new initiatives announced by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the White House to involve patients in sharing medical records. But he also noted that executing that vision will be significantly harder than the pronouncement itself.

RELATED: CMS launches new initiatives to expand patient access to health data, plans ‘complete overhaul’ of Meaningful Use

In and op-ed for Recode, Chopra said making that vision a reality means changing the culture among patients to demand their health data. He also called for more industry commitment to standardized EHRs and pointed out that federal agencies will have to deal with companies that have traditionally monetized patient data.  (Recode)