CHIME Joins Industry Leaders in Call for Action on a National Strategy for Patient ID
Key Takeaway: Last week CHIME joined a diverse group of 22 industry stakeholders that urged the House Appropriators to maintain the language that clarifies the ability for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to work with the private sector on a national strategy for patient identification and matching.
Why It Matters: CHIME has long advocated for the importance of a cohesive national strategy to address the absence of a national solution used to link patients for their healthcare data. The joint letter penned by 23 healthcare industry stakeholders represents the last plea from the industry for national leadership on this critical issue to patient safety, improved healthcare outcomes and reduced cost.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been prohibited for nearly two decades from using funds to promulgate a rule or standards around patient identification. Although the proposed FY17 appropriations bill retains the ban on finalizing a rule around patient identification, clarifying HHS’s latitude to work with the private sector on a solution to patient matching would mark a significant step forward. The letter urges House and Senate Appropriators to ensure the report language accompanies future Labor-HHS Appropriations Bills.
Inaccurate patient identification and errors in patient matching can lead to serious medical mistakes and are major barriers to improving the quality and efficiency of care across the continuum. House appropriators highlighted this challenge in report language accompanying the Fiscal 2017 Labor-HHS Appropriations Bill, labelling the “lack of a consistent patient data matching strategy” as one of the “most significant challenges” to safe and secure electronic health information exchange.
Congressional Docs Weighs-In on MACRA Again
Key Takeaway: The GOP Doc Caucus, a group of Republican clinicians in the House of Representatives sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) urging caution to avoid finalizing overly complicated final rules for Medicare physician payment that are expected to start on January 1, 2017.
Why It Matters: Congress has continually exerted their oversight authority as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has pursued the new Medicare physician payment systems that were established through the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA.)
The Congressional Doctors Caucus urged CMS and OMB to recognize congressional intent when finalizing the MACRA rules that were sent to OMB for final review and approval in mid-September. The authors cited a recent HealthAffairs study that physician specialties spent on average 785 hours a year and $15.4 billion on measuring quality.
Among the asks from lawmakers was for a 90-day reporting period for the Advancing Care Information (ACI), which replaces the Meaningful Use program for Medicare physicians, for at least the first year of the (Merit-based Incentive Payment System) MIPS program.
By law, the rules that will govern the program in 2017 must be released by CMS no later than November 1, 2016.
Key Takeaway: HHS has awarded two cybersecurity grants totaling $1.75 million
Why it Matters: Late this past summer, HHS announced two funding opportunities to further cybersecurity information sharing efforts. Last week, HHS announced that the NH-ISAC was awarded both grants. Each grants can be extended up to five years. HHS announced the winner in a press release. In the release HHS stated:
HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) awarded a cooperative agreement to the National Health Information Sharing and Analysis Center (NH-ISAC) of Ormond Beach, Florida to provide cybersecurity information and education on cyber threats to healthcare sector stakeholders. HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) awarded a cooperative agreement to NH-ISAC to help build the infrastructure necessary to disseminate cyber threat information securely to healthcare partners.
OCR Issues New Bulletin
Key Takeaway: The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a guidance last week focusing on cloud computing.
Why it Matters: OCR states up-front, “With the proliferation and widespread adoption of cloud computing solutions, HIPAA covered entities and business associates are questioning whether and how they can take advantage of cloud computing while complying with regulations protecting the privacy and security of electronic protected health information (ePHI). This guidance assists such entities, including cloud services providers (CSPs), in understanding their HIPAA obligations.” The guidance offers several Q’s and A’s including clarifying that “cloud service providers” or CSP that stores protected health information in the cloud are indeed business associates.