HIMSS Government Relations Efforts Have New Guidance from Updated Public Policy Principles

by Indranil (Neal) Ganguly, CHCIO, FHIMSS, FCHIME, Member of the HIMSS Board of Directors, and VP & CIO of CentraState Healthcare System

HIMSS 2013-2014 Public Policy PrinciplesI’m pleased to share that at our Dec. 7 meeting, the HIMSS Board of Directors approved the organization’s updated 2013-2014 Public Policy Principles.  This year’s review brought the Policy Principles up-to-date with major changes that have impacted the health IT environment in the past two years, including implementation of the meaningful use program and many components of the Accountable Care Act. Bi-annually, in synch with Congressional elections, HIMSS formally reviews its Public Policy Principles. 

The Principles not only provide guidance for proposed health IT-related legislation by the U.S. Congress and state legislatures, and inclusion in federal and state regulations, they become our roadmap guiding HIMSS’ government affairs and public policy activities over the next two-year period.  Proposed changes may be submitted by HIMSS members and the Policy Principles are periodically updated by the Board on an as-needed basis. 

My co-chair Martha Dameron and I first convened the 25-member Public Policy Principles Review Workgroup in May this year.  We met weekly into November to discuss key issues facing the health IT community, with particular focus on issues that demanded more attention than when the Policy Principles were last updated in 2010.  All HIMSS Committees, content experts across HIMSS, and the Public Policy Committee then reviewed and comment on the document.

The 2013-2014 Principles are organized in  14 categories (up from 11 in the 2011-12 edition), with additional emphasis to interoperability, health information exchange, standards, mobile health, and regional/state policy issues.  The 14 categories and the updates made are:

  1. Funding and Incentives – Increases emphasis on maintaining the EHR Incentive Program; maintaining loan and grant programs; expanding incentives to additional settings and providers; focusing incentives on continuity of care; and supporting health IT education programs.
  2. Clinical Quality and Outcomes – Maintains focus on coordination of care through integrated technology; recommends expanding quality initiatives beyond traditional settings; focuses on clinical workflow and administrative simplification; quality measures development and testing; and aligning the EHR Incentive Program with quality measures and reporting.  
  3. Organizational Structure – Simplifies the wording; deletes unnecessary list of federal agencies in favor of a generic description; emphasizes on DoD and VA integration and support; deletes extraneous justification of principles; broadens and generalizes principles; and emphasizes proliferation of best practices.
  4. Interoperability, Standards, and Infrastructure – New category adds emphasis on the exchange health information confidently and securely among healthcare entities as a fundamental requirement for transforming America’s healthcare delivery system, improving quality, clinical outcomes, and controlling costs. 
  5. Innovation, Safety, and Process – New category focuses on safety; optimizing user workflow, efficiency, and accountability; technology systems as learning systems for process improvement; facilitating team-based care including patients.
  6. Privacy and Security - Updates language and concepts; adds more precise wording; adds the patient-data matching strategy as a patient safety issue; and adds mHealth concepts.
  7. Legal - Updates and more precisely delineates principles; adds more precise wording; adds concept of data source identification; adds provision that the FDA not define “medical devices” including software not integral to a diagnostic therapeutic or surgical device.
  8. Patient Empowerment/Consumer Engagement - Maintains previous concepts, but simplifies language and adds concepts of patient access, ease of patient understanding, literacy, and self-management tools.
  9. Equity and Access - Maintains previous concepts of health IT expanding access to care, broadband expansion, health IT action zones, reimbursement for telehealth, and public awareness programs, but simplifies and updates language of previous principles.
  10. Population and Public Health Management - Chapter’s title changes to be more comprehensive and up-to-date; continues previous principle topics and expands the concept of eligible providers and hospitals generating data to enhance population health goals.
  11. Workforce Development - Simplifies the language, on previous workforce development principles related to funding and incentives; adds new language on training for nurses and other healthcare professionals; and eliminates some specific language in favor of a higher-level principles approach.
  12. Administrative Simplification - Updates and expands previous concepts of increasing administrative efficiency; adds the concepts of clinical and business intelligence; and introduces the role of health IT in minimizing fraud and abuse.
  13. Mobile Health - Category added to provide focus attention on the rapidly-evolving, currently high-interest area; focuses on ensuring equity of mobile technology with existing legislation, incentive programs, and reimbursement mechanisms.
  14. Regional and State Level – New section addresses issues which are primarily or solely at the regional and state level and contains concepts previously addressed in a separate document; is not intended to duplicate principles contained in other sections, but to focus on principles that need special attention at the state level.

Please review the 2013-2014 Public Policy Principles and let us know, what do you think are the top health IT policy issues for 2013 and 2014?

About Elinore Boeke

Sr. Manager, Public Policy Communications - part of the HIMSS Government Relations team in Washington, DC. For health IT-related public policy updates, follow me on Twitter @ElinoreBoeke, and subscribe to the complimentary HIMSS Health IT Policy update e-newsletter at http://www.himss.org/policyupdate.
This entry was posted in Blogging, HIMSS News and Developments, Interoperability & Standards, Mobile Health or mHealth, Patient-Centered Systems, Privacy and Security, Public Policy and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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