Health IT National Coordinator Dr. Farzad Mostashari Shares Top 10 HIT Developments of 2011

Farzad Mostashari, MD, national coordinator for health information technology, has named his list of the past year's 10 most notable developments in health IT and the ONC in a Health IT Buzz report.

This list is as follows:

1. January: Launch of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. The number of electronic health records certified under the programs has increased from 300 in the beginning of 2011 to more than 1,500 now. The number of vendors has reached 672, more than three times its starting amount. In addition, more than 20,000 eligible professionals and 1,200 hospitals have received incentive payments from CMS, bringing the total to $1.8 billion.

2. February: Launch of DIRECT. The Direct Project is a secure platform for providers to send health information over the internet. More than 25 vendors have implemented the Direct Project, and it is part of the core strategy of 40 state health information exchange grantees.

3. March: The National Quality Strategy.
HHS' National Quality Strategy included HIT as a main component of improving the quality of care and reducing costs. The National Quality Strategy also led to Partnership for Patients, an initiative to reduce hospital-acquired conditions and readmissions, and the Million Hearts campaign, an initiative to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

4. April: Launch of the standards "summer camp."
The Office of Standards and Interoperability launched the Summer of Standards, during which 150 members of the Standards and Interoperability Framework Transitions of Care Initiative reached consensus on a single standard for transmitting care transitions data.

5. June: Spurring HIT innovation.
ONC launched the Investing in Innovations Program to encourage healthcare innovations through prizes and challenges. Two of these challenges were One in a Million Hearts, which called for applications that would empower patient to improve their heart health, and Ensuring Safe Transitions from Hospital to Home, which was designed to create applications for improving care transitions.

6. July: HIT workforce. ONC is training HIT workers through 82 community colleges and nine universities. It has also open-sourced its HIT curriculum.

7. September: Breach reporting and increasing security awareness.
HHS' Office for Civil Rights issued its first report to Congress on breaches of protected health information. As notification requirements for data breaches have increased under the HITECH Act, more providers and vendors are focused on the need for encryption and regular risk analyses. 

8. September: Consumer eHealth comes to the fore.
ONC launched a Consumer e-Health Program to support consumers in engaging in their health through IT. More than 250 organizations have agreed to make health information easily available to consumers.

9. October: Regional extension centers surpass their goals. As of mid-December, the REC program had enrolled more than 116,000 priority primary care providers, surpassing its goal of 100,000.

10. November: Growth in the adoption of EHRs. A CDC survey found the percent of office-based physicians who have adopted a basic EHR has increased from 17 percent in 2008 to 34 percent in 2011. In addition, 41 percent of hospitals eligible for the EHR Incentive Program have adopted certified EHRs.

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Former ONC Chief Dr. David Blumenthal: HITECH Act Will Be Successful

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