Year’s End, New Beginnings: Health IT’s 2015 Outlook
First off, I’m pleased to be joining MSLGROUP, coming from TechTarget’s SearchHealthIT.com news site. I started there in 2010, after nine years of writing HCPro publications focused on respiratory care department management as well as hospital safety, Joint Commission compliance, nutrition, and clinical trials regulations.
It was gratifying to contribute to SearchHealthIT.com’s rapid growth into one of the top HIT newsgathering organizations following its HIMSS 2010 unveiling; it remains in the capable hands of dedicated and relentless writers and editors I also count as good friends.
Now, for our main attraction. Here are three 2014 HIT regulatory stories to continue monitoring in 2015, as healthcare providers and payers peg their IT budget spends to moving targets:
- ICD-10. Mysteriously, Congress directed the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to move the next-generation diagnosis code language’s implementation deadline one year out, from Oct. 1, 2014 to Oct. 1, 2015. It was last-minute verbiage added to the annual Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) bill. Will it happen again in 2015, despite last week’s pleas from the American Hospital Association and other groups lobbying for no more foot-dragging, after they suspected a new delay might be sneaked into the $1.1 trillion House appropriations bill? Such uncertainty makes it difficult and costly for providers and payers who’d invested millions on ICD-10 prep and are now battling training attrition (and some are paying consultants on extended retainer) as they wait to see what happens next year.
- Meaningful use. It started out as a smashing success in stage 1, with hundreds of thousands of hospitals, groups, and solo docs receiving incentive payments for implementing certified EHR technology. In stage 2, it appears to be losing momentum. Healthcare stakeholders wait with baited breath to see just what percentage of stage 1 participants make it through stage 2, versus the number of dropouts, this year and next. And oh yeah, we’re wondering what will be required of EHR Incentive Program participants in stage 3, as CMS will likely roll out the proposed rule sometime in 2015.
- DeSalvo and health data interoperability. U.S. national health IT coordinator Karen DeSalvo, M.D. shifted her team’s emphasis from meaningful use to health data interoperability in 2014 as she announced a “vision plan” to achieve it in 10 years, mounting a roadshow to champion its development among stakeholders. That is, until she left ONC to aid Health and Human Services’ Ebola-fighting efforts in October. A few days later, ONC backtracked on that reassignment. In fact, the agency said, DeSalvo would be serving a dual role at HHS, continuing on as chief HIT authority and as a developer of public health strategies for containing Ebola. Earlier this week, DeSalvo’s 2015-2020 Federal Health IT Strategic Plan also went public; that is a prelude to a more detailed draft of her aforementioned 10-year national interoperability roadmap, due early next year. It will be interesting to see if the feds can help the industry make progress toward interoperable health data – for patients’ sake – in 2015, or if patients will be seeing the same stuff, different year.
So, here at year’s end, we can at least wish you a happy holiday. Once the calendar turns to 2015, with any luck, it will be a happy new year for healthcare and health IT professionals, too.