Washington Debrief: DeSalvo Steps Down; Vindell Washington Takes the Helm

Oct. 5, 2016
Karen DeSalvo, M.D., stepped down last week as head of the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC).

ONC Leadership Change

DeSalvo Steps Down; Washington Takes the Helm

Key Takeaway: Karen DeSalvo, M.D., stepped down last week as head of the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC).

Why it Matters: DeSalvo became the nation’s National Coordinator for Health IT in January 2014. Ten months later, she was tapped by the secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to take on the additional responsibility and was named acting assistant secretary for health to help work on the Ebola crisis. DeSalvo, whose last day at ONC was Friday, handed the reins to Vindell Washington, M.D., who was principal deputy at the agency. In announcing the change, Secretary Sylvia Burwell said:

Under her leadership, ONC has advanced interoperability across the health system – which underpins progress on a wide range of Department and Administration priorities. She has also made significant advances to the Health Information Technology Certification Program to promote and expand the safe and secure flow of electronic health information when and where it matters most for individuals and clinicians. During her tenure, ONC has worked with other federal partners and the private sector to update the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan and develop a Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap, both of which chart a person-centered path for improving health outcomes by unlocking health data through tools like open application programming interfaces (APIs). She has also co-chaired the Department’s Delivery System Reform efforts, which set historic goals and worked to leverage the resources of the Department to build a more person centered health system that encourages more coordinated care.

DeSalvo is staying on as assistant secretary for health, focusing her energy on public health priorities. Prior to joining ONC last January, Washington served as the president of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System (FMOLHS) Medical Group and as the health system’s chief medical information officer. Click here to read CHIME’s statement on the change at ONC.


CHIME and AEHIS Members Outline Cybersecurity Challenges on Capitol Hill

Key Takeaway: During an event on Capitol Hill last week, CHIME and AEHIS members highlighted the need for policymakers and healthcare delivery organizations to prioritize cybersecurity.

Why It Matters: Congress has taken a keen interest in cybersecurity, holding more than 20 hearings on the topic during the current session. And late last year, a landmark cybersecurity threat information sharing bill was signed into law. While cybersecurity broadly has gotten significant attention from lawmakers, there’s hasn’t been a lot of emphasis on healthcare. So last week’s briefing was a great opportunity to explain the unique security challenges facing healthcare organizations.

The briefing, co-hosted with the HIMSS Institute for eHealth Policy, featured CHIME members Theresa Meadows, senior vice president and CIO, Cook Children’s Health Care System; and Rodney C. Dykehouse, CIO, Penn State Milton S Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine; as well as AEHIS member Matthew Snyder, CISO, Penn State Milton S Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine.

Panelists spoke about the importance of improving the security of medical devices and electronic health records (EHRs), resource and workforce shortages as well as the importance of changing the culture of healthcare to increase the volume of threat indicators shared across provider institutions.

Quality Measurement

CHIME Needs Your Input!

Key Takeaway: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized eight electronic clinical quality measures (eCQMs) and a full reporting year for 2017. We need your help telling CMS why this will be such a challenge. Please take our quick survey!

Why it Matters: CMS has finalized the requirements for eCQM reporting for 2017. The agency had proposed to increase the number from four in 2016 to 15 for 2017. CHIME successfully used member feedback to convince the agency to reduce the number from 15 to eight for 2017. However, CMS elected to finalize its proposal for a full year reporting for next year rather than sticking with a quarter. We are hearing from some members the increase in measures and the full reporting period will be a challenge to meet. While CMS has already finalized these new mandates, we nonetheless want to continue to offer them feedback on why these new requirements will be hard to meet.

Impact Act

Key Takeaway: CMS issues call for technical experts on measure development for the IMPACT Act.

Why it Matters: CMS is currently soliciting nominations for technical expert panel members for quality measures developed under the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014 (IMPACT Act) to meet the domain of the transfer of health information and care preferences. The quality measures, Transfer of Information at Post-Acute Care Admission, Start, or Resumption of Care from Other Providers/Settings, and the Transfer of Information at Post-Acute Care Discharge or End of Care to Other Providers/Settings were developed for the Long-Term Care Hospital, the Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility, the Skilled Nursing Facility, and the Home Health Agency settings. CMS is seeking technical experts with expertise in care transitions and information transfer during transitions, quality improvement, and performance measurement, among other areas of knowledge. The call for technical expert panel members is open from August 8th through August 21st, 2016. For more information, visit the Technical Expert Panel webpage. 

Meaningful Use

Physician-Focused Payment Model Technical Advisory Committee (PTAC) Meeting

Key Takeaway: PTAC is a new federal advisory body created under MACRA to help shape the new physician reimbursement system created under MACRA. Specifically, the committee is charged with:

  • Reviewing proposals submitted by individuals and stakeholder entities for physician-focused payment models (PFPMs); and
  • Provide comments and recommendations to HHS regarding whether each proposal meets criteria for PFPMs established by the secretary

The next meeting is Friday, September 16, 2016 9-12:30 ET. The meeting will be held in Washington, D.C., however there is an option to call into the meeting. Space is limited and registration is required in order to attend in-person or by phone. Registration may be completed online.



Key Takeaway: The VA has issued a Request for Information on transitioning to a commercial EHR.

Why it Matters: The VA has come under fire from some in Congress and others for not moving to a commercial EHR product and continuing to remain with its long-standing VistA EHR. Comments are due August 26. The RFI states:

The purpose of this RFI is to request industry feedback, guidance and recommendations on all aspects of the change management associated with this VHA COTS EHR acquisition and transition. The scope of this RFI does NOT include the Information Technology software or hardware change, but rather in helping the VHA clinical and business processes achieve this transformation in the most efficient and cost effective manner. Of particular interest are industry partners with prime contractor experience supporting the change management and business process reengineering for other large healthcare systems transitioning to a new EHR.