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HIMSS Preview: Looking for HIE Needles in a Haystack

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, February 18, 2014

CIOs heading to the biggest health IT event of the year will encounter a vast array of new platforms and protocols promising health information exchange interoperability. Whether there's room for much optimism amidst the complexity remains to be seen.

As the healthcare industry prepares to head to Orlando for next week's HIMSS conference, should we be optimistic about the state of healthcare IT interoperability?

I'm not sure. So far this month, the healthcare IT news hasn't been all that promising. According to industry buzz, CMS found its Meaningful Use attestation Web site overwhelmed by traffic that made the Web site unusable from time to time, so much so that the agency postponed the deadline for 2013 attestations for 30 days to March 31, 2014.

Pessimists will point to this flub as one more foreshadowing of 2014's Stage 2 attestation requirements as a train wreck in the making. After months of pleading, CHIME has been unable to prevail upon CMS to push back the basic requirements for those providers who attested in 2011 or 2012 to attest for Stage 2 this year, and this month's CMS postponement changes nothing about that.  

And there's plenty more than can go wrong. I continue to hear persistent reports that although certified Stage 2 software has now been released by most major EHR software publishers, providers remain queued up in long lines waiting for their numbers to be called by those publishers so their software can be upgraded.  

I even hear that some EHR software certified to be Stage 2-compliant makes some basic tasks, like sending a document via the Direct protocol, convoluted. That should be remedied when the software gets patched later in the year.

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