December appears to be the month of the patient portal study.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's updated health IT strategic plan, released Dec. 8, is a high-level, ambitious framework for the federal government. It addresses some of the questions the industry has had about the direction of health IT and ONC. It's also an interesting read.
Meaningful Use is supposed be, well, meaningful.
Stakeholders have been all over the board regarding what the Meaningful Use program should evolve into. Some believe the focus should be on interoperability. Others want to make it less punitive and restrictive. The Institute of Medicine has suggested that more social and behavior data, such as stress and household income levels, be collected.
But if the new list of potential measures for the Meaningful Use program published by the National Quality Forum's Measure Application Partnership (MAP) is any indication, for eligible professionals, the program is either getting customized or going haywire.
As the editor of FierceEMR, I spend a lot of time reviewing the Meaningful Use program--and too often find problems with it. It's not that I'm going out of my way to criticize the program or the agencies that operate it, but unfortunately they make it all too easy. Still, there also are several reasons to be thankful for the program.
Meaningful Use is supposed be, well, meaningful. But sometimes what's good in theory doesn't translate very well in practice.
I'm sure I'm not the only person who's distressed to learn that the appeals process for the Meaningful Use program lacks clarity and appears arbitrary. So what's going on here? It's not that easy to find out.
I hate to say it, but isn't it about time that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT realized that they are trapped in a "Groundhog Day" time warp? In the 1993 movie of the same name, Bill Murray is condemned to repeat Feb. 2 until he finally realizes why he's stuck and then changes his ways--and his attitude--in order to move on. Except that we know that the movie had a happy ending. The direction of the Meaningful Use program is not so clear.
I think it's fair to say that for the American Medical Association (AMA), the gloves officially are off.
David Blumenthal, former National Coordinator for Health IT and current president of the Commonwealth Fund, published a very insightful and thought provoking blog post last week about the fact that electronic health records are now the industry's "understandable but not wholly justifiable" scapegoat for many of the problems in healthcare. Among other things, he pointed to the human tendency to want to cast blame rather than take responsibility for mistakes, the fact that EHRs are "imperfect" systems, and that they're at the forefront of clinicians' minds, literally "in their faces" all day long.
But there is one item in his article with which I don't agree.
I presume that I'm not the only person who finds the occasional disconnect between the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's blog posts and the real data behind them amusing.