Sunday, December 21, 2008

HIMSS Releases HIT Blueprint

The HIMSS report “A Call for Action: Enabling Healthcare Reform Using Information Technology” outlines specific priorities and recommendations for the Obama Administration and the 111th Congress. The report explains how to harness information technology’s power to reform healthcare and stimulate the economy.

Stephen Lieber, HIMSS President and CEO appeared last week at a press conference on Capitol Hill to announce the publication of the report. He said, “The HIMSS report gives direction to dealing with the healthcare issues facing this country and can help lead the Obama Administration and Congress to get the U.S. on the road to adopting HIT in the immediate future.”

Speaking at the briefing, Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) who has been instrumental in providing House leadership for healthcare IT sees promising opportunities for the passage of health IT legislation in the next session of Congress. Letters from leaders on the Hill have been written to President Elect Obama to express how important it is to invest in healthcare reform now. He stressed that the golden opportunity for health IT legislation to pass is here in the next administration.

Representative Kennedy said he also knows that the next Secretary of HHS and Director of the White House Office on Healthcare Reform Tom Daschle, is very informed on the issues and understands the enormous problems that the country faces in delivering healthcare. Right now, the incoming HHS Secretary is working hard to put together a strong Health Technology office.

Specific recommendations in the report include:

  • Investing a minimum of $25 billion in health IT to help non-governmental hospitals and physician practices adopt electronic medical records
  • Applying recognized standards and certified health IT products among all federally funded health programs by requiring that federal funding used to assist providers and payers be used to purchase or upgrade new Health IT products that apply HITSP interoperability specifications and have CCHIT certification
  • Expanding Stark Exemptions and Anti-Kickback Safe Harbors for EMRs to cover additional healthcare software and related devices that apply HITSP interoperability specifications and are CCHIT certified
  • Authorizing and codifying HITSP as the National Standards Harmonization Body, a Senior Level Health IT Leader within the Administration, and authorizing a Federal Advisory and coordinating body for Health IT
  • Conducting a White House Summit on Healthcare Reform through Information Technology

To sum up the importance for the HIMSS report, Harry Greenspun, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, Perot Systems Corporation and HIMSS Government Relations Roundtable Co-Chair, said “The recommendations in the report can help lay the foundation to build a more accessible healthcare system that could improve patients’ quality of life, help prevent disease and increase affordability of care. Implementing these changes would also put us on the path toward ensuring that our healthcare system will be able to meet the needs of future generations.

The full report is available online at