ONC/CMMI’s Ahmed Haque on MU, HIT Services & Payment Reform

Date: 10.16.2013 | Rob Waters">Rob Waters

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) is leading nationwide efforts in health IT, reform and the nationwide electronic exchange of health information data.

Here to speak with us about meaningful use optimization, value-based purchasing programs, Regional Extension Centers (RECs) and more is Ahmed Haque. Mr. Haque is Program Analyst with the ONC and currently on special assignment to the CMS Innovation Center as a Health IT Advisor. In this capacity, Mr. Haque will be advising the center’s care delivery and payment reform programs on health IT and related policies and programs. Mr. Haque can be contacted at ahmed.haque@hhs.gov or via Twitter @aehaque.

Mr. Haque recently spoke about meaningful use implementation at the State Healthcare IT Connect Summit with Jack Hueter, Director of NJ-HITEC, Esperanza Avram, Chief Executive Officer at CalHIPSO and Laura Rappleye the Senior Analyst at Altarum Institute. The session, ‘Health IT 2.0′ or ‘Making Meaningful Use Meaningful’ can be viewed by registering with the HCIT Connect media portal. You can also DOWNLOAD SPEAKING PROPOSALS for the 2014 State Summit.

Anna Belle Abraham: Ahmed, could you tell me a bit more about your role and the work you’re doing with providers to optimize their ‘Meaningful Use’ investments?

Ahmed Haque: Our office has been hard at work laying the infrastructure needed for care delivery transformation and quality improvement in health care. With nearly 60% of primary care providers in the U.S. meaningfully using their Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems, my work has been focused on working with programs funded by the Health Information Technology Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) act, specifically the Regional Extension Centers (REC), to assist primary care providers optimize their use of EHRs for quality improvement. A recent report published by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (U.S. GAO) found that providers working with an REC were 2.3 times more likely to achieve Meaningful Use than those providers that were not working with an REC. This profound piece of data not only showcases the success of the REC program, but demonstrates the need for providers to have a trusted advisor or coach to help facilitate change in an effective and timely manner. My role as a Program Analyst with the ONC includes being responsible for leading the REC 2.0 initiative, which consists of several workgroups of robust RECs who are working alongside with State Health Information Exchange (HIE) organizations and Beacon Community Programs to support primary care providers and specialists with future stages of Meaningful Use and care delivery transformation.

ABA: Provider organizations across the country are mobilizing their organizations to participate in ACOs, PCMHs and value based purchasing programs. What are some of the leading examples of HIEs/RECs supporting provider participation in new care delivery models?

AH: We are encouraging and carefully tracking how our programs are expanding their services to support providers with new care delivery programs. We know that RECs, State HIEs, and Beacon Programs that are in the same regions where new care delivery and payment reform models are being tested are supporting those models. Specifically, our programs are supporting CMMI models such as the Comprehensive Primary Care (CPC) initiative, State Innovation Models (SIM), Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). Additionally, they are supporting payer-based, state-based, and other national medical home models, specifically Blue Cross Blue Shield medical home, NCQA PCMH, and other state specific programs.

A good example of this support is the New Jersey Health Information Technology Extension Center (NJ-HITEC), New Jersey’s REC. The Barnabas Health Accountable Care Organization in New Jersey partnered with NJ-HITEC to receive support for its ACO. Specifically, NJ-HITEC assisted Barnabas with initial data analytics, which required matching of over 1,000 providers to beneficiaries and then extracting quality data from the EHRs and paper-based charts. The REC then conducted in-office analytical review of both the EHR and paper-based records. Once reviewed and analyzed, the abstracted quality data was entered into GPRO for quality reporting which generated real-time analysis that was necessary for ACO Improvement, reports card delivery and, education to the physician ACO members.

ABA: Patient engagement and patient activation is a rapidly emerging focus for ACOs, how can RECs/HIEs help in this area?

AH: Accountable Care Organizations and the Patient-Centered Medical Home work in tandem with one another. The PCMH is focused around a core set of principles to improve quality and safety, financial and clinical outcomes, physician and staff satisfaction, but a core value is patient engagement. Both ONC and CMS believe that Physicians, eligible hospitals, and CAHs are in the best position to encourage patients to engage in their own health care both through the use of HealthIT by included specific measures in Meaningful Use stage 2 to encourage increased communication between everyone on the care team including patients.

Building on this technological backbone and policy framework many or our 62 regional extension centers are standing up new service lines this summer that will help many of the 143,000 providers REC’s they have worked with, (43% of all primary care providers in the US) implement and optimize “patient-centered healthIT” and move to the next step of practice based transformation and systems level interventions like care coordination at the community level. One example of this is the new patient portal that the New York REC is currently crowd-sourcing http://nyehealth.org/for-patients/patient-portal/ This will allow patients simple, secure online access to their personal health information, via the Statewide Health Information Network of New York (SHIN-NY).

ABA: What service lines at the moment are most important for RECs/HIEs and how do you see these evolving over time? 

AH: By working closely with providers in states and local communities, the RECs are well aware of the needs of the providers and build their services around those needs. We are currently tracking over 50 different services and programs for which the RECs support providers. With Stage 2 of Meaningful Use on the horizon and various care delivery transformation programs being deployed, services that will help providers the most and facilitate the change process are most important at this time. These services include making the exchange of health information easier, delivering patient and family engagement related services, addressing privacy and security, and providing medical home services. This list is not all inclusive, but will help providers transition to Stage 2 and optimize use of their EHRs more effectively.


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