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Dispatch from Washington: Plenty on the HIT Agenda

by Lauren H. Fifield, Senior Policy Advisor

I’ve been in D.C. this week for my second round of government affairs adventures in November. Last week, I was joined by our fearless (no, really) leader—CEO Jonathan Bush—and this week I am joined by Stephanie Good, a fearless-in-her-own-way member of our legal team who will be helping to shape athenahealth’s policy agenda. More on that and my recent expedition with JB coming soon.

Stephanie and I came down here for just two days, but we brought a stacked agenda. In my head I’m calling it a tour de force… 

Yesterday, we started out at the monthly and in-person HIT Policy Committee meeting. The release of the Meaningful Use Stage 2 notice of proposed rulemaking in early 2012 is still on the horizon but until then the committee is still cranking on a number of topics. Many of you may be interested to know they are looking at the CMS rule on Accountable Care Organizations (ACO). There’s also a program that brings together stakeholders across care transitions called “Putting the IT in TransITions.” Finally, the committee recapped the Meaningful Use Stage 3 hearing on October 5th when Jeremy Delinsky, our chief technology officer, represented athenahealth.

Then, we headed over to a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled “Your Health and Your Privacy: Protecting Health Information in a Digital World.” It was time well spent but we felt like a lot of the discussion was happening in a bubble. We completely agreed with the intention to protect the consumer and allow both providers and patients to adopt and leverage health information technology. However, it felt somewhat detached from day-to-day life for medical practices and vendors. Clearly we have some work to do there. One bright spot was Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. Not only is he an advocate for access to affordable health care and protecting health information, but he brings a quick wit and energy to the room. 

Today, we started our day on the Hill and then headed over to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) for the official release of its report on health IT and patient safety (that had been leaked earlier…oh D.C. theater). Then we wrap up with a Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing on health reform.

Stay tuned. And in the meantime, follow me on Twitter for the latest.

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