"We certainly have experienced… difficulties, and I can personally relate to the challenges of new systems, relationships with vendors, and charting a course through previously unnavigated waters," Tavenner said, referring to the well-documented difficulties with the healthcare.gov website.
When confronted by a question regarding patient safety during the Q & A session after the keynote, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, Karen DeSalvo, said, "We are exploring our options to help you… we want to make sure you are not penalized for doing the right thing."
These comments come at a time when many within the healthcare industry are expressing concerns regarding the ability to adopt the Meaningful Use standards as specified in the HITECH act. On the Friday before HIMSS, more than 40 healthcare industry groups penned a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius seeking more time for Meaningful Use attestation, and citing concerns over patient safety and lack of vendor support.
On Thursday, in an exclusive interview with HealthLeaders Media, Intermountain Healthcare CIO Marc Probst disclosed that his organization is unready to seek MU Stage 2 attestation and will forgo incentive payments and trigger penalties.
'It's Time to Move On'
While concerns from within the industry are being taken seriously, there will be no turning back. While CMS will be offering exemptions on a case-by-case basis, "Now is not the time for us to stop moving forward," Tavenner said. She was especially unyielding regarding the new ICD-10 coding system.