Politico Morning eHealth: State of the Union

STATE OF THE UNION: Those of us hoping for a wonkish discussion of C-CDAs in the State of the Union speech were sadly disappointed. But Obama did give shout-outs on matters of interest to health IT folks: he mentioned medical research, including the precision medicine initiative; expressed hope for bipartisan progress on prescription drug abuse; and touted his VP Joe Biden's “cancer moonshot.”

Health IT Now's Joel White, wearing his hat as president of the Council for Affordable Health Coverage, wasn't much impressed. "While we appreciate the President’s commitment to cure cancer, we also believe now is time to finish the unfinished business of health reform: affordability," he said.

Rep. Fred Upton, on the other hand, was much sunnier, saying: "The talk of a [cancer] ‘moon shot’ is the exact mindset we need — America can and should lead the way. I spent some time with Vice President Biden before the speech, and he is committed to helping us get important, bipartisan reforms through the Senate and into law.

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE STATE OF THE EHR?: It needs reform, CMS director Andy Slavitt’s has acknowleged in recent remarks and tweets. Slavitt declared he wanted to move away from measuring the use of health IT to the outcomes clinicians achieve using them. He wants to open up competition through APIs, and of course more interoperability and less data-blocking. He indicated that these changes should take effect as the agency shifts to the MIPS payment formula, and we should see rules setting out how that will happen later this year.

The AMA "strongly agrees with and applauds" Slavitt's comments, it said Tuesday--adding that his leadership on the issue "is a model for how Washington should work." Wanda Filer, president of the American Academy of Family Practitioners, was a bit more cautious: “We hope that CMS comes up with something that’s more usable, better able to be incorporated into a day to day practice, and that helps advance quality, rather than slowing us down.”

Most of the tech community seems pleased with the declaration of reorientation, particularly in light of the 209,000 eligible professionals due to be hit with reimbursement penalties this year. “Particularly given the challenges some providers have experienced with Stage 2, we’re encouraged to hear about the shift in program direction from Mr. Slavitt,” declared Leigh Burchell, Allscripts VP and EHRA chair. “We strongly support reducing prescriptive requirements so that vendors can focus on meeting the needs of their own client base with development efforts driven by the market.”

Source: Politico, DARIUS TAHIR