Health IT Letter – December 2015/January 2016

Health IT Letter – December 2015/January 2016

Digital blue image of DNA molecule and technology concepts

Dear Colleagues,

In the New Year, I would like to wish the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso family a belated very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! However you celebrated, I wish you all the happiness of the season.

Calendar year 2015 brought a myriad of health IT challenges, and I am happy to write that as an organization we weathered most of these challenges. I look forward to continuing into 2016 ready to face the new challenges ahead.

Meaningful Use (MU)

In conjunction with Office of Clinical Informatics (OCI) staff and clinical administrators, we shall continue to send out reminders to the providers who have not signed up to give us CMS proxy. ***In order to improve automation of MU reporting to CMS, please respond to a CMS I&A Connection Request email you received. This will allow TTUHSC El Paso to manage our MU attestation efficiently, and avoid asking for passwords going forward.

The 2015 CMS Meaningful Use (MU) program year has closed. We will be working on submitting our information to CMS/TMHP by early February. Preliminary numbers for 2015 are as follows:

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The 2016 MU program year measurements already started and will run for the entire year. The bi-weekly scorecards will re-start once we have them revised for updated MU measures.

Clinical Measures

There are a number of clinical quality programs presently such as Meaningful Use (MU), Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), and Value Based Modifier (VBM). All of these programs have different measures making it difficult to align as a system. This manifests as multiple EMR screens and multiple boxes to click within the EMR; all points of discontent with the EMR, which I acknowledge. Over the next few years, CMS will align reporting measures into a system signed into law called MACRA, which starts in 2019 (see timeline below).


During the year, we will meet with clinical chairs, administrators, and clinical faculty regarding our MU/PQRS/VBM scores and our journey toward MACRA by 2019. Patient satisfaction will play into these measures and we need several approaches to improve this as well. I hope that this performance improvement process will initiate an open, thought-provoking discussion regarding our clinical quality, how to improve it, if needed, and ways technology assists in this journey.

An example of a TTUHSC El Paso success story for quality measures is HEDIS. Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) are performance/quality measures established by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) for the commercial insurance industry for Medicare Advantage plans. TTUHSC El Paso has a HEDIS Care Team, established in mid-2015, which has worked to address logistical obstacles affecting our reporting of quality measures via claims and chart reviews to our commercial insurance business partners/payers. The work of this group has resulted in TTUHSC El Paso’s increase in its STAR ratings average score (CMS’ rating system of HEDIS quality scores) from approximately a 1 STAR to almost 4 STARS out of a 5 STAR rating scale at year end.  The group will continue to meet in 2016 and beyond to ensure our TTUHSC El Paso’s continued success in the HEDIS programs.

So What’s New?

UMC CSI – University Medical Center of El Paso upgrade to Cerner, both in-patient and outpatient, continues to progress. Thank you to all the faculty and residents involved in creating in-patient note templates. The expected project launch date is June 1, 2016.

2016 Health IT Trends – If you thought the maelstrom of Health IT was already going crazy, hold on to your hats! For 2016 and beyond there will be more change. Take a look at the 2016 Health IT Trends here and here.

Digital Health Bytes

  • All I want for EMR Christmas – read here.
  • Top Ten Health Apps of 2015 – read here.
  • The Uber-ization of Healthcare – read here.
  • The Cost Effective (cardiologist) – read here.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns regarding our EMR, Clinical Information Systems and any issues you have with the direction we are taking in Digital Health.

Thank you.

Ogechika K Alozie, M.D., M.P.H., CPHIMS
Chief Medical Informatics Officer (CMIO)
Office of Clinical Informatics