Interoperability Plan Underwhelms, Mostashari Resigns: Now What?

Scott Mace, August 13, 2013

In seven weeks, providers are supposed to be implementing stage 2 of Meaningful Use. The government's interoperability plans are lacking. And a key Washington player says he's leaving the scene. It's starting to look like a calamity.

As if the turbulence of July 2013 on healthcare IT wasn't bad enough, last week things got arguably worse.

First, Farzad Mostashari, director of the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health IT at the Department of Health and Human Services, announced he is resigning, staying on just long enough for a replacement to be found.

Then, one of ONC's major projects of 2013, a strategy by CMS and ONC to promote interoperability in an industry that desperately needs it, made its underwhelming debut, overshadowed as it was by Mostashari's resignation, which hit during the same 24-hour news cycle.

How underwhelming was the ONC/CMS plan, itself a response to comments on an earlier request for information? Highlights of the initiative related to health information exchange tell the story:

  • Accelerating Interoperability and Electronic HIE through Payment Models Require electronic HIE in all advanced payment models and Medicaid waivers
  • Extend Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) efforts
  • Include Long-term care and post-acute care (LTPAC) and Behavioral Health (BH) in State Innovation Models (SIM) grants
  • Direct incentives for LTPAC and BH providers
  • Explore additional reimbursement codes for care coordination via telehealth, e-visits, radiology queries, and Evaluation & Management
  • Require electronic HIE standards as regulatory requirements for quality measurement and conditions of participation
  • Extend Regional Extension Center (REC) support
  • Extend Stark and Anti-kickback exceptions for donations of EHR software
Scott Mace

Scott Mace is the senior technology editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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