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The week in Government HIT: May 24, 2010

by Joe Holtschlag, Manager, Government Affairs

We’re still between major announcements in federal HIT, so let’s look at a few reasons that things have been quiet for the past couple of weeks:

1. We are awaiting the confirmation of Donald Berwick for head of CMS.

2. ONC is currently working on compiling their review of the public comments for “Meaningful Use." This will be followed in Q3 by the final rule.

3. ONC is also working on certification planning, but no big decisions have been made.

4. Many of the HITECH projects like Beacon, SHARP, workforce development and even the RECs are doing more ‘heads-down’ planning than announcement of findings or successes. None of the RECs, for instance, have had their operational plans accepted by ONC (or at least as far as we’ve heard).

5. Most of the HIEs are also working on their operational plans for ONC approval.

The one big announcement was that NIST released a solicitation for a consultant to develop a framework for understanding and assessing the usability of healthcare IT. Given that NIST is a body for standards, one could infer that they’re proposing to develop usability standards for EHRs. And given their integral role in certification, one might also infer that future EHR certifications will require EHRs to use certain design principles. It’s something to noodle on. But because of this slow period, your dedicated documenter of departmental derring-do is going to take a break from Gov’t Healthcare IT updates. But buckle your seatbelts for the June 4 update – it’s going to be thrilling!

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