HIMSS18 recap: Feds emphasize patient access to data, prosecutors talk fraud risks and Northwell explores drones

As usual, the annual HIMSS conference was a blur. It’s completely excusable if you missed some of FierceHealthcare’s coverage while getting lost in the exhibit hall or crossing over yet another elevated walkway in Las Vegas to get to the hotel across the street.

Here’s a quick roundup of our conference coverage.

Eric Schmidt wants healthcare in the cloud. Now.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given his previous position as chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, Eric Schmidt spent much of his opening keynote speech urging the healthcare industry to get to the cloud as soon as possible. Cloud computing, he argued, would allow for greater automation and help providers integrate patient data from outside the EHR. (Article)

Northwell Health’s next telehealth venture involves drones

Northwell Health is exploring the use of drones to provide faster emergency care, Chief Technology Officer Purna Prasad, Ph.D., said in an interview with FierceHealthcare.

There’s still a lot of red tape to cut through, but a new pilot program by the Federal Aviation Administration to rethink some of the restrictions around commercial drones could provide an opportunity for the health system to test out the new approach that would include two-way communication with a physician.

“This is actually our next foray into telehealth,” Prasad said. (Article)

Healthcare.gov used just 36% of its scheduled downtime, CMS official says

After facing criticism in the lead-up to open enrollment last year over scheduled downtime, retired Col. Bobby Saxon, who serves as chief technology officer for the Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight, which oversees Healthcare.gov, told reporters the federal exchange website used 36% of its scheduled downtime.

Saxon he is also making a concerted effort to move the website entirely to the cloud by April 2019. (Article)

CMS plans Meaningful Use overhaul

The big announcement from HIMSS18 came from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma and White House aide Jared Kushner, who revealed several new federal efforts to put data in front of patients. Verma also issued a stern warning to providers that engage in data blocking. (Article)

ONC officials don’t mince words when it comes to patient access

Following that joint announcement, top officials with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) strongly rejected the idea that patients aren’t ready to see their health data.

“It’s a paternalistic attitude on the part of doctors like me to think that patients don’t want the data or aren’t ready for it,” Jon White, M.D., the deputy national coordinator at ONC, told reporters. “There’s a lot of folks that are ready and eager and really irritated that they can’t get their data.” (Article)

Insurers told Verma: ‘You need to force us’ to share data

In a meeting with reporters following her announcement, Verma explained how her agency plans to pressure insurers to share data with patients by re-examining its relationship with payers through Medicare Advantage, Medicaid and the federal exchange. She said insurers urged her to force them to share claims data with patients. (Article)

Rucker: Access to data will make Americans better healthcare shoppers

“If there’s one thing Americans are good at, it’s shopping,” ONC National Coordinator Donald Rucker, M.D., said during a fireside chat. “We have pioneered shopping.”

But that’s not the case when it comes to healthcare, he argued. Better access to data will give consumers the opportunity to engage with the medical system like never before. (Article)

Federal prosecutors talk emerging fraud risk in health IT

Two federal prosecutors—including an assistant U.S. attorney from Vermont who led the eClinicalWorks investigation—offered up a frank discussion about some of the fraud risks that new health IT entrants should be aware of.

The officials outlined some of the ways that companies can become ensnared in a fraud investigation, how to self-report possible violations and how “buggy” code that poses a risk to patients could open companies up to increased liability. (Article)

UCSF’s Robert Wachter highlights pockets of health IT success

Few would call the chair of the University of California, San Francisco’s Department of Medicine a health IT optimist, but during a keynote speech, Robert Wachter, M.D., offered a few notable examples in which analytics and technology improved patient care. But, he cautioned, widespread digitization in healthcare will take longer than other industries. (Article)