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HIT Week - Sep 26-30, 2016

This week has been National Health IT Week with many efforts pushed out by ONC and CMS as well. Searching on Twitter with the hashtage #NHITweek will pull up many of the items and discussions, but a few things that are especially noteworthy have come out and highlighted below.

In one of the most impressive works made by ONC, they released this week the Health IT Playbook. It a comprehensive look at health IT and its impact on healthcare professions. You can look up various topics like "Privacy and Security", "Certification", "Care Settings", and many other areas. It provide written explains as well as videos and documents to access.

It was designed with small and medium ambulatory practices in mind, especially for providers who have not adopted health IT or looking to upgrade. ONC made special effort to target providers beyond primary care, like specialists and LTPAC.

It is not designed for in-depth knowledge of each area but instead a good, concise introduction on each of aspect. Any one new to the HIT space should check it out.

ONC released a new guide for clinicans, hospitals, and any group or individual interested in obtaining or upgrading an EHR. Called "EHR Contracts Untangled: Selecting Wisely, Negotiating Terms, and Understanding the Fine Print", it is a well done resource to help individuals and organizations better understand what should be considered on the contractual side of EHR and health IT systems.

Without directly saying the reason behind it, ONC obviously did this because there has been frustration from some providers on their business relationship with their vendors, especially in the areas of not being able to obtain the necessary functionality, equipment, or services to do all of the required Meaningful Use measures, at least at the cost they want or expected. Of course, there are always two sides to a story, and some vendors can share (in private at least) their own frustration about unreasonable request from their provider and hospital customers.

Regardless of any he-said/she-said type of complaints or disagreements, this is a helpful resource as it gets out in the open for public discussion the importance of clearly understanding contractual obligations for using EHRs and health IT. It is good information for both developers and clinicians.

On the CMS side, they announced the winner of a "A Bill You Can Understand" challenge. It was a design challenge to improve the average patient bill, which has never been called easy to understand for the average patient. So CMS sponsored a contest for groups to submit new designs and approaches to make them more patient-centric.

You can see the winners at What is very cool about this is that AARP and a design company are partnering with several hospital and medical groups to implement these designs in real-world applications to see the response. It is definitely an area that can be improved through relatively small efforts but with big payoffs.

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