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HIMSS Releases Health IT Blueprint for Obama Administration and Congress
Date:12/17/2008

Health IT Presents National Economic Stimulus Opportunity

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) today released A Call for Action: Enabling Healthcare Reform Using Information Technology, a detailed report outlining specific priorities and recommendations for the Obama Administration and 111th Congress to harness IT's power to reform healthcare and stimulate the U.S. economy.

"President-elect Obama and U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary-designate Daschle have clearly indicated their interest in finding ways to cost-effectively evolve our healthcare system to include 21st century technology solutions that will help improve access, decrease costs and increase quality of healthcare for millions of Americans," said Charles Christian, FCHIME, FHIMSS, Chair of HIMSS Board of Directors and Director of Information Systems and CIO, Good Samaritan Hospital. "Our goal in releasing this report today is to share the expertise and recommendations of the health IT community with policymakers to help ensure health IT policy proposals achieve maximum impact for consumers and the healthcare community."

Among the specific recommendations detailed in the HIMSS report include the following priority actions:

  • Invest a minimum of $25 billion in health IT to help non-governmental hospitals and physician practices adopt electronic medical records (EMRs). Additional funding should be allocated to cover EMR adoption by federal and state-owned healthcare providers, and establish health IT Action Zones. HIMSS also calls for SCHIP to be expanded to make health IT available to Medicaid and SCHIP providers of healthcare to children.

  • Apply recognized standards and certified health IT products among all federally funded health programs by requiring that federal funding to assist providers and payers within these programs adopt health IT only be used for the purchase or upgrade of new health IT products that apply HITSP interoperability specifications and are CCHIT-certified.

  • Expand Stark Exemptions and Anti-Kickback Safe Harbors for EMRs to cover additional healthcare software and related devices that apply HITSP interoperability specifications, are CCHIT-certified, and allow for better coordination of care and information sharing among related providers and their patients. In carrying out this recommendation, the Secretary should implement necessary measures and requirements to protect against conflict of interest and improper relationships among providers.

  • Codify and Authorize the following:

A. Codify HITSP as the National Standards HarmonizationBody responsible for collaborating with the public and private sector to achieve a widely accepted and useful set of standards to enable the widespread interoperability among healthcare software applications. Adequate funding should be authorized and appropriated for HITSP from FY10 - FY14.

B. Codify a Senior Level Health IT Leader within the Administration to oversee a national health IT strategy.

C. Authorize a Federal Advisory and Coordinating Body for Health IT. Based on the experiences of the AHIC and its Successor organization, the U.S. Congress should authorize a federal advisory committee - operating under the Federal Advisory Committee Act - responsible for advising the Administration on health IT initiatives throughout the U.S. and coordinating standards harmonization through collaboration with HITSP and CCHIT.

  • Conduct a White House Summit on Healthcare Reform through Information Technology to develop consensus and propose solutions to critical, national health IT issues within the context of the larger national healthcare reform effort.

"While most experts in the health IT profession recognize that the long-term benefits of moving towards a more modernized healthcare delivery system will vastly outweigh the short-term costs, we also recognize that these short-term costs are being proposed during a time of significant economic uncertainty," said H. Stephen Lieber, HIMSS President and CEO. "We are convinced that moving forward with health IT now will not only be critical to ensuring sustainable positive change for consumers, but will also provide an immediate economic stimulus in the way of new jobs across the healthcare sector."

"The promise of information technology to help transform our nation's healthcare systems has been widely recognized for some time, with numerous private and public entities working to leverage federal programs to advance the use of health IT across management and delivery systems," said Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-RI), Chair of the 21st Century Health Care Caucus. "Health IT can lead to reduced costs by creating greater efficiency, reducing mistakes and promoting evidence-based best practices. I remain committed to working in support of healthcare policies that will reform our nation's healthcare system, an issue the incoming Administration has stated will be among its top priorities. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle on this extremely important policy reform which includes health IT as an integral component."

A Call for Action: Enabling Healthcare Reform Using Information Technology was developed by more than 100 HIMSS member volunteers to ensure that health IT is appropriately addressed in anticipated healthcare reform policy in 2009. Chaired by HIMSS members Maggie Lohnes, RN (Chair, HIMSS Advocacy and Public Policy Steering Committee) and Harry Greenspun, MD (Chair, HIMSS Government Relations Roundtable), the Workgroup deliberated from September - December 2008.

Editor's Note: The full report is available online at www.himss.org/2009calltoaction. A live web cast of the press conference will be available on www.himss.org. Photos are also available upon request.

About HIMSS

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) is the healthcare industry's membership organization exclusively focused on providing global leadership for the optimal use of healthcare information technology (IT) and management systems for the betterment of healthcare. Founded in 1961 with offices in Chicago, Washington D.C., Brussels, Singapore, and other locations across the United States and the globe, HIMSS represents more than 20,000 individual members and over 350 corporate members that collectively represent organizations employing millions of people. HIMSS frames and leads healthcare public policy and industry practices through its advocacy, educational and professional development initiatives designed to promote information and management systems' contributions to ensuring quality patient care.


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SOURCE Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society
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