HIMSS' 2015 'Congressional Asks' focus on HIE, cybersecurity and telehealth

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HIMSS is getting ready for the upcoming National Health IT Week by posting its annual three Congressional Asks.

For this round, here's what officials are asking Congress:

  1. Support robust interoperability and health information exchange (HIE). This consists of removing the "Congressional prohibition" on the use of government money to create a national patient identifier, directing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to study a nationwide patient matching strategy. It also consists of directing the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) to review and amend its EHR certification program to include "rigorous interoperability testing" of HIE standards and specifications and also directs "all federally-funded national and state government agencies to have the functionality to exchange data with healthcare institutions." 
  2. Support healthcare's efforts to combat cyber threats. The growth of HIE requires greater efforts to secure that data so this ask directs HHS to identify "a single, voluntary, national health-specific IT data security framework" that includes common security practices, support implementation to improve cybersecurity and is consistently updated. Second, HIMSS suggests establishing "a single information sharing pipeline of actionable cyber threat intelligence," from both private and government sources, that is available to healthcare providers at no cost.
  3. Expand access to telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries. While current law "quixotically prevents CMS from reimbursing most providers for telehealth services and remote patient monitoring," HIMSS urges Congress to amend the "allowable originating sites of care," eliminate geographic restrictions, advance use of store and forward technologies, expand modalities to include asynchronous care, update current procedural terminology and healthcare common procedure coding to include telehealth and remote monitoring and, finally, drive efforts to align federal and state initiatives. 

HIMSS officials plan to share the asks with Congress members during National Health IT Week, which is Oct. 5-9.