Medical Community Turns Out In Force for National Coordinator for Health IT

Date: February 8th, 2012Category: CORHIO e-NewsletterTopics: Health IT

National Coordinator for Health IT, Dr. Farzad Mostashari, and CMS’ Technical Director for HIT, Jessica Kahn, Visit Colorado to Stress the Urgent Need for EHRs and HIE

Farzad Mostashari, MD, and Jessica Kahn learned much during their January 12 visit to Colorado, but perhaps their biggest insight came when they saw first-hand how collaborative and aligned Colorado health care professionals are. They also expressed praise for Colorado health care organizations' collective approach to focus on improving health care quality and value, or health transformation, rather than adopting technology solely for Meaningful Use reimbursements in absence of higher goals.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Serivces (CMS) leaders’ visit to the Denver-area, coordinated by CORHIO and hosted by Denver Health, was timed to recognize Colorado physicians and providers that have achieved Meaningful Use status with their electronic health record (EHR) system and to encourage all providers to continue to push their organizations forward on the health IT front.

The conference room was crowded with a who’s who in the state’s active health IT arena. Dr. Mostashari and Ms. Kahn shared VIP status at the meetings with Marguerite Salazar, regional director for Health and Human Services (HHS) and Mark Levine, MD, chief medical officer for the Denver region of CMS.

Dr. Mostashari was blunt in his assessment of what needs to happen. “We can’t possibly reduce cost while improving quality without innovation in how we deliver care,” he said. “I know a lot of organizations feel overwhelmed with ICD10, Meaningful Use requirements and other issues, so give us your comments on how we can make the rules make sense. But, by God, it’s 2012. We have to make huge progress on this.”

Colorado Health Care Leaders Share Insight, Recommendations

Despite Dr. Mostashari’s place at the top of the country’s health IT infrastructure, presenters at the meeting were not shy about telling him what the government was doing right and wrong in leading the roll out of health information exchange (HIE) and health IT across the country.

Cari Fouts, director of communications for the Colorado Rural Health Center, a Colorado Regional Extension Center (CO-REC) partner organization, told Dr. Mostashari that the small providers she represents “need clarification on Medicare rules” that appear tilted toward larger practices that have much larger patient volumes. Dr. John Bender from Miramont Family Medicine in Fort Collins asked Dr. Mostashari for help getting small practices low-interest loans to help with the cost of electronic health record systems. “The banks just aren’t lending,” Dr. Bender said.

Of course, there was much celebration of what strides have been made too. Ellen Batchelor, senior project director for the Colorado Foundation for Medical (CFMC), another CO-REC partner organization, said that one of her “biggest joys” came when “practices that were resisting [EHRs and Meaningful Use] are now attesting.”

Colorado Progress on EHRs and Meaningful Use

Some of the 299 providers who had achieved Meaningful Use in Colorado (as of mid-January) were on-hand to accept certificates signed by the National Coordinator and to be recognized by peers and health care leaders from across the state.

Also at the meeting, representatives from the state’s largest health systems, hospitals and medical practices coordinated with the department of Health Care Policy & Finance (HCPF) and the Colorado Regional Extension Center (CO-REC) program to announce their collective level of support for helping providers achieve Meaningful Use.  All together, the organizations pledged to assist 3,400 providers in their attestation for Meaningful Use, representing 36% of the total number of eligible providers in the state.

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