5 intriguing health IT storylines from 2012


Data theft. Fraud. Political wrangling. While those all sound like things you'd expect to read about in a crime novel, in 2012 they also were very much a part of the healthcare IT landscape. As the year comes to a close (and without the world ending, to boot), FierceHealthIT is taking a look back at some of the more intriguing storylines from the industry. Let us know what you would add in the comments section, or via social media on Twitter (@FierceHealthIT), Facebook or LinkedIn.

The Affordable Care Act stays intact

By and large, most in the healthcare IT industry seemed pleased by the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act in June. Stephen Stewart, CIO of Mount Pleasant, Iowa-based Henry County Health Center and a FierceHealthIT Advisory Board member, told FierceHealthIT after the ruling that health it would "only become more prominent as a result."

John Halamka, another Advisory Board member and CIO of Boston-based Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, added in a post to his Life as a Healthcare CIO blog that the decision "ensures that … foundational components [to health IT] will still have urgency, since every provider organization will be motivated to implement them in order to thrive in the healthcare marketplace of the future."

The decision has been a point of contention for others in the industry, though, namely medical device manufacturers. Medical imaging device vendors, in particular, worry about the impact that the law's 2.3 percent medical device tax will have on jobs. A report published in March by the Advanced Medical Technology Association concluded that the tax will, which is set to go into effect next month, will result in the loss of close to 39,000 jobs and $8 billion in economic output. David Cooling, director of state and federal policy with the Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance, recently called the tax "burdensome" for the vendors he represents.

Meaningful Use has its ups and downs

In late August, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services published the long-awaited final rules for Meaningful Use Stage 2. While some hospital CIOs, like FierceHealthIT Advisory Board member Drex DeFord of Steward Health Care in Boston, expressed positive sentiments about the rule, telling FierceHealthIT that federal officials listened and gave providers "more time to plan and do the work better," others weren't so pleased with all of the rule's aspects, like a measure requiring eligible hospitals to have more than 5 percent of unique patients viewing, downloading and transmitting their information to a third party electronically.

"I understand the desire to drive patients online and change behavior," CentraState Healthcare System CIO Indranil Ganguly, also an Advisory Board member, told FierceHealthIT, "but feel that it is unreasonable to put that burden on the healthcare provider."

This past fall, meanwhile, the Meaningful Use program was called out by both House and Senate Republicans for being "weak" and a "waste of taxpayer dollars." Reps. Dave Camp (Mich.), Fred Upton (Mich.), Wally Herger (Calif.) and Joe Pitts (Pa.) called for delaying penalties against providers who choose not to adopt electronic health records, as well as a freeze on incentive payments to providers until the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services could "promulgate universal interoperable standards."

A recent survey by New York-based audit, tax and advisory services firm KPMG found that many hospital leaders are apprehensive about the ability of their facilities to meet Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements.