• CHIME Survey Finds Healthcare CIOs Less Optimistic About EHR Adoption
The College for Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) released results of a November 2010 survey of their membership.  in which 15% of respondents expected to qualify for Meaningful Use by April 2011. ). In surprising findings, CIOs responding to a November survey by the College of Health Information Management Executives (CHIME), said they expect that their own organizations to qualify for meaningful use payments next spring in substantially lesser numbers than in a similar survey taken in August.   Confidence in their ability to comply dropped from 28% in August to just 15% in November, with an even greater drop in confidence at the community hospitals where only 5% now say they would qualify for incentive payments. 62% of CIOs responding believed that the use of CPOE for was the largest impediment to qualification, although the capture & submission of data for quality measures were also mentioned.

• ONC Names Two More EHR Testing Bodies
ONC has named ICSA Labs (Mechanicsburg PA)  and SLI Global Solutions (Denver CO) as Authorized Certification and Testing Bodies (ACTBs) under its temporary EHR certification program are  are now authorized to perform Complete EHR and/or EHR Module testing and certification.    Certification by an ATCB will signify to eligible professionals, hospitals, and critical access hospitals that an EHR technology has the capabilities necessary to support their efforts to meet the goals and objectives of meaningful use. There are now five designated testing and certification bodies, and 117 certified Ambulatory EHRs or EHR modules. View the complete Certified HIT product list and ONC-Authorized Testing and Certification Bodies.


• Office-Based Physicians Show Slight Increase in EHR Use over 2009
CDC survey released in December “Electronic Medical Record/Electronic Health Record Systems of Office-based Physicians: United States, 2009 and Preliminary 2010 State Estimates” found that EHR use by office-based physicians increased approximately 2.5% (, from 48.3% to 50.7%. Just over 10% of respondents said that their systems met the definition of “full-functionality, up from 6.9% last year. There was a broad variation by state with Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin having the highest use (>75%) & Florida, Louisiana and Kentucky having the lowest (~40%).

• A Study Finds that ‘Tele-ICUs’ Can Cut Costs
A New England Health Institute study “Critical Care, Critical Choices:
The Case for Tele-ICUs in Intensive Care” found that use of telemedicine technology in intensive care units could both improve outcome and reduce costs. The study, carried out at the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center and two collaborating community hospitals, found that use of this technology not only allowed critical care providers to monitor a greater number of patients at multiple locations, but also lowered mortality by 20% at UMAss Memorial and by 13% at the community hospitals; UMass Memorial reported savings of $2600 per patient, allowing the initial capital costs to be recovered within one year.

• President’s Council of Advisors on Science Release Major Health IT Report
On December 9th key federal officials including DHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius; Council on Economic Advisors Chief Larry Summers; and ONC Director David Blumenthal, MD. Released a new report by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) entitled: “Realizing the Full Potential of Health Information Technology to Improve Healthcare for Americans: The Path Forward”.  The report examines how health information technology could improve the quality of healthcare and reduce its cost, and whether existing Federal efforts in health information technology are optimized for these goals.


• HIT Policy Committee Seeks Comment on Clinical Quality Measures for Stages 2 and 3
The HIT Policy Committee, Quality Measures Workgroup has issued a Call for Comments, by December 23rd,  on proposed quality measures for the next stages of Meaningful Use in five domains: Patient and Family Engagement; Clinical Appropriateness/ Efficiency; Care Coordination; Patient Safety; and, Population and Public Health.


• DHHS Announces  “Health Information Exchange Challenge Program”
The DHHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has announced plans to make available grants totaling approximately $16 million to encourage breakthrough progress for nationwide health information exchange in five key challenge areas. The five themes include: 1. Achieving health goals through health information exchange; 2. improving long-term and post-acute care transitions; 3. Giving patients access to their own health information; 4. Developing tools and approaches to search for and share granular patient data (such as specific lab results for a given time period); 5. Fostering strategies for population-level analysis. Current direct award recipients of the State Health Information Exchange Cooperative Agreement Program are eligible. Grants will range from $1 million to $2 million each, and will be in the form of supplemental funding for the State Health Information Exchange Cooperative Agreements.


• 11 States Now Have ONC Approved HIE Plans
As of December 3, 2010, 31 States have submitted Strategic & Operational State HIE Plans to ONC, and eleven states – California, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas & Utah  – now have ONC-approved plans. The toolkit and samples, a compilation of resources designed support plan development and implementation. Requirements are detailed in the July 2010 PIN.  Health Centers need to be aware of and align with these plans.

• DHHS 10 Year Health Promotion Agenda Includes Information Technology
The Healthy People 2020 plan released December 2nd  includes myHealthy People – a new challenge for technology application developers. “This milestone in disease prevention and health promotion creates an opportunity to leverage information technology to make Healthy People come alive for all Americans in their communities and workplaces,” said DHHS Chief Technology Officer Todd Park. “The ‘myHealthyPeople’ apps challenge will help spur innovative approaches to helping communities track their progress using Healthy People objectives and targets as well as develop an agenda for health improvement.” HHS is also launching a newly-redesigned HealthyPeople website that allows users to tailor information to their needs and explore evidence-based resources for implementation.


• HIT Workforce Training Programs Front and Center
On December 8th, the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT issued request for public comment on a proposed information collection “Evaluation of the IT Professionals in Health Care” assessing the effectiveness of its major HIT Workforce Training programs at community colleges and universities.  This a new information collection activity is intended to explore program challenges, provide critical formative feedback to the Workforce grantee institutions on their activities, and determine whether the Workforce Program overall was successful in helping to build a skilled workforce equipped to meet the heightened demands of the current environment. The data collection efforts include: a web-based baseline survey of community college students; course evaluation forms; focus groups with students, faculty members, and competency exam takers; and a Web-based survey of community college faculty.

In a related effort, RCHN CHF consultant Neal Neuberger led an December 9th invited discussion among leading representatives of the Office of National Coordinator for HIT;  DHHS Office of Minority Health; Health Resources and Services Administration; Department of Education; Department of Labor; NACHC; and, others on behalf of the NHIT Collaborative for the Underserved concerning federal coordination efforts among the various HIT Workforce Training programs.  Conference recommendations will be posted shortly regarding:

  • Development of effective strategies to promote health IT and health information management careers in underserved communities and communities of color;
  • Development of effective strategies to improve the “findability” of information on health IT workforce careers and curriculums, as well as Federal and State health IT workforce programs;
  • Discussed approaches to better aligning Federal and State workforce and training programs with private industry.