It“™s one thing to change the game, it“™s another to set the rules. By stimulating investment in healthcare IT and helping reach consensus on the definition of “meaningful use,” David Blumenthal has done both in a short amount of time. Since being appointed national coordinator for health information technology at the Department of Health and Human Services last March, Blumenthal has already vetted two sets of “meaningful use“ criteria and is speeding up the implementation of healthcare IT by setting the first stage in 2011 instead of 2014, which was originally set by President Bush. While a practicing physician, he was a part of early health IT implementation at Massachusetts General Hospital. Consequently, he recognizes that consulting services are necessary for physicians to utilize technology effectively and has included provisions for investment in consulting in the meaningful use criteria. He has also made listening a part of legislation by allowing industry leaders to voice their opinions at all of the stages of the process. Blumenthal is urging participation in the National Health Information Network (NHIN) as a way of increasing communication between government agencies, as well as health practitioners. Will Dr. Blumenthal’s rules stimulate “meaningful” growth in health IT consulting for contractors?
By increasing communication between government agencies and the government contracting world, Henry Chao, chief technology officer for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, has helped to change the world of healthcare IT. Chao has been part of a team that has helped to impact legislation by creating cross-agency initiatives to make sure that Congress was well informed about the cost, repercussions, and policy of changing healthcare IT and how to implement it successfully. He is also working with the private-sector through CGI’s Initiative for Collaborative Government, which tries to catalyze policy changes and results through collaboration among the private sector, universities, and federal employees. Chao is trying to connect federal, state, and private systems by working to create an interoperable health network. He believes the groups need to work together to “figure out how to streamline the way frontline clinicians deal with multiple payers and insurers so they can reduce their workload.” Chao is building bridges between government and contractors to reduce the costs of healthcare administration, make healthcare more secure, and strengthen technological standards. How will Chao use communication to simplify and improve the adoption of healthcare IT in the private-sector?
As the nation“™s first chief technology officer, Aneesh Chopra is promoting innovation and modernization of healthcare IT, protected with appropriate security measures. In his previous position as Secretary of Technology for Virginia, Chopra helped test the National Health Information Network (NHIN) Open Source Software, CONNECT, through its pilot between MedVirginia and the Social Security Administration. That initiative, along with additional work for Virginia Health IT, won him a Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) 2007 State Leadership Advocacy Award. Chopra developed his passion for health IT while serving as managing director at the Advisory Board Company, a for-profit healthcare think tank. He is currently trying to expand the base of innovators focused on advancing the president“™s health IT agenda and is encouraged by the recent increase in venture capital investment focused on the market. He is working with key stakeholders throughout the government to ensure a more innovative approach to engaging with the private sector, with emphasis on small business participation. In his last interview with ExecutiveBiz, Chopra suggested the creation of a “health IT or smart grid “˜app store“™ that would allow entrepreneurs and corporations to access government data and build innovative commercial solutions.“ How will Chopra“™s approach impact either the procurement or grant making process for health IT?
Standardizing bar codes as a key for retrieving electronic health records is one of Linda Fischetti“™s implementation challenges and triumphs. Fischetti’s extensive experience in health information technology, coupled with her practical experience as a registered nurse, places her at the leading edge of applied IT solutions for improving recordkeeping and health services as chief health informatics officer at the Veterans Administration’s Office of Information. She can also take great pride in the accolades given to the VA in its role as a leader in the adoption and successful use of health IT. As a health information systems architect, she has been at the forefront of redesigning systems to incorporate and benefit from emerging technological solutions, while introducing a patient-centric approach that gives veterans user-friendly access to their own records through MyHealtheVet software. Will Fischetti make the VHA the next great incubator for health IT solutions?
Over 10 years ago, as a cardiac anesthesiologist, Harry Greenspun created a software program that tracked the outcome of patients undergoing a revolutionary type of cardiac surgery. From those beginnings he has become a thought leader in the health IT world. Today, as chief medical officer and executive vice president for Perot Systems, Greenspun is currently working to bring electronic health records and information exchange to the private sector, similar to those used by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense. Greenspun believes that incentives included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will ultimately “provide greater value and higher quality care to more people, based upon sound evidence and rooted in prevention.” Active in health policy, Greenspun was co-chair of a task force providing recommendations to the administration on transforming healthcare through information technology. Before joining Perot Systems, Greenspun also worked at the Advisory Board Company along with Aneesh Chopra. What do you think of Greenspun’s efforts to bring electronic health records and information exchange to the private sector?
Stuart Hagen brings his experience as a former director of health plans for FHP Health Care to his 10 years of health budgeting expertise for the Congressional Budget Office. As CBO’s senior analyst, Hagen has spelled out potential problems in encouraging the use of health IT as part of reform efforts. According to Hagen“™s analysis, financial incentives in health care both limit the effectiveness of health IT and contribute to the broader problem of escalating health care costs. He has also noted that providers that implement health IT might have to redesign their work processes to maximize the effectiveness of their new IT systems. Hagen has highlighted gaps in current knowledge of who might benefit most from cost savings. For example, he points out that IT cost benefits may simply increase provider profitability and not necessarily reduce patient or plan costs. Hagen“™s analytical work is providing a road map for further analysis needed in order to fully capture the potential benefits of many healthcare IT applications.
John Loonsk has been a game changer for much of his career. While associate director for informatics at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Loonsk formulated the idea for the National Electronic Disease Surveillance System (NEDSS). He also helped create the Public Health Information Network. After moving to HHS as director of the Office of Interoperability and Standards in the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, Loonsk developed the basis for the National Health Information Network (NHIN). Now as vice president and chief medical officer for CGI, Loonsk has turned from connecting health technologies to connecting government contractors to federal reform efforts. Since joining CGI in April, he has advocated for the inclusion of “technology and policy engineering to guide the thousands of electronic medical record systems and participating organizations into becoming a coherent and secure infrastructure to support health and health reform.“
While at HHS, Loonsk also worked to create standards and accountability for health IT vendors through the creation of the Certification Committee for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) and the HIT Standards panel. Now that Loonsk is part of the private-sector, how will he build off his public-sector ideas?
As chief healthcare officer for IBM’s Global Healthcare and Life Science division, Janet Marchibroda wants to increase patient safety through better use of health information technology. She believes that “better information leads to better health care decisions … in addition, better information helps avoid deadly mistakes.“ Before joining IBM, Marchibroda founded the eHealth Initiative, a non-profit organization that seeks to drive health care improvement and innovation through stake-holder collaboration. Marchibroda continues her work connecting federal employees, contractors, and vendors as executive director for Connecting for Health, a public-private initiative to create a national electronic health information infrastructure. She thinks that by increasing the quality and amount of information that doctors receive, through a patient“™s electronic health record, and the collaboration between doctors, health IT can improve quality of care, enhance patient safety, and reduce costs. How might Marchibroda’s public-private partnerships produce new openings for development of profitable health IT solutions?
Along with two other experts appointed by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to the Health Information Technology Policy Committee, Deven McGraw is advising Dr. David Blumenthal on policies for achieving nationwide adoption of health IT, including the “meaningful use“ criteria. As co-chair of the Health Information Exchange workgroup, she aims to shape policies and technical solutions that protect the exchange of health data and are consistent with“meaningful use.“ At the Center for Democracy and Technology, she advises legislative staff on how healthcare IT privacy and security affect the stimulus and health reform bills. She is also advocating policies that protect personal data while providing sufficient information to improve patient care, public health, and research, and enable bioservillance. In a recent interview with ExecutiveBiz, she said “if we do not [implement health IT] mindful of the privacy risks that are created and we do not address those risks appropriately, we will not create a system that patients and providers can trust and therefore we will not be very successful.“ How will McGraw“™s passion for more data protection mold the implementation of health IT?
As program director of federal health architecture at the Department of Health and Human Services’s Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, Vish Sankaran has been working to promote and implement the CONNECT software, one of health IT“™s most promising programs. Using the software“™s open source platform, Sankaran is connecting health records from 25 different federal agencies to create a working National Health Information Network (NHIN). Eventually Sankaran and the ONC hope to expand the program to include state Medicare networks and potentially private hospitals. He believes that the program can break down historic barriers by increasing communication and collaboration and creating continuity of care from government agencies and the private-sector. Sankaran is also advocating for more stringent security requirements in HIPAA. He has said that a “FISMA-lite“ or “HIPAA-plus“ program is needed for health IT, to assure security without limiting the implementation. His leadership in networking health records will create unprecedented data access for analyzing health care administration, costs, and practices, while establishing a platform for improved public health research using de-identified data. The fully operational NHIN will also open business opportunities for healthcare contractors as providers and payers identify new uses for NHIN and the applications it is expected to generate. Having laid the foundation for information sharing, what new structures will Sankaran build in the coming years?
Who would you add to the list of Health IT Game Changers to Watch? Share your comments here.