After spending some time discussing the new thinking on a national health information network (NHIN) (see our related post at the bottom), Information Week pressed Dr. Blumenthal about issues on the top of most provider's minds. When asking about criticism of the current meaningful use definition Dr. Blumenthal, not surprisingly, deflected the issue stating that it is in the public comment period now. However other issues he provided a bit more.
He provided a little more information on the certification process that will be so critical to system vendors. He said:
"We want to get out a regulation creating a certification process; we're working very hard on that. We have an enormous number of programs to implement that have been announced over the last two to three months. So that's a big challenge."
A discussion on certification could not be complete without a discussion of CCHIT's involvement. There are certainly strong feelings on both sides of the issue and Dr. Blumenthal's comment is consistent with earlier comments coming out of ONC's committees, namely that the certification process will be specific to meaningful use and not driven by CCHIT's existing certification. He specific response was:
"We'll have to see what the regulation actually is and see where CCHIT fits in. CCHIT is clearly going to have the option to participate in certification going forward, but I can't tell you what role exactly it will play. "
A question that continues to come up in the community is who will be there to make all of these requirements happen. We have commented before on the wide range of requirements rolling out over the next 36 months beyond the EHR efforts. Health care providers face new HIPAA requirements, a transition to the ICD10, a transition to the new 5010 transaction set, new RAC audits. Each of these efforts takes substantial time and specialized resources. How this talent is accessed and managed can be the different between success and failure in many of these efforts and has driven us to work towards an effective health care consulting marketplace with www.ReadyConsultant.com.
The issue is certainly not lost on ONC but it does not provide comfort to hear a response that essentially indicates they are going to start supporting educational/training efforts. The last time we checked the requirements above are rolling out immediately. Here is what he said:
"We're going to be training a lot of these professionals, and I hope we get them out in time. We're going to get them out as fast as we can.
Professional organizations indicate there are shortages. I think people who are IT trained are potential candidates for these jobs, but they need to ... understand the challenges of healthcare, the problems, the kind of cultures of healthcare delivery. "
This will certainly be an interesting time that creates many opportunities as well as risks. Do you think the resources are out there? Are the health care organizations ready to tackle these projects?