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HIMSS annual conference to explore meaningful use, HITECH Act

Attendance at this year’s HIMSS conference, up more than 6% from last year, is being driven largely by a desire to know more about meaningful use.

There’s a rumor that the rock group the B-52s will be playing one of the vendor parties at this year’s Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference, but that’s not the reason everyone is attending the show.

Attendance for the HIMSS 2010 Annual Conference is being driven by the various federal health information technology policies that hospitals and doctors are required to follow if they want to be eligible for incentive payments. “It’s meaningful use,” said Joyce Lofstrom, a spokeswoman for the organization.

According to its most recent numbers, HIMSS calculates that this year’s professional registration is up 6% compared with last year, while overall registration, including vendors and professionals, has increased 3% from last year’s attendance of 27,500. There are 859 exhibitors planned for the 2010 show in Atlanta, to be held March 1-4.

A lot of those participants are expecting to hear more about the meaningful use criteria and health IT standards that have been rolled out under the HITECH Act of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The stimulus law allocated $20 billion to help providers purchase and implement health technology, such as electronic health records (EHR), but providers have said that the aggressive timeline for adopting technology will make compliance difficult.

The industry is still waiting on final rules regarding health IT standards and changes to privacy and security laws. Stakeholders also have been submitting comments on the proposed meaningful use rule, after which the Department of Health & Human Services will develop a final rule. In addition, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is expected to release a proposed rule soon that explains the certification process for organizations that wish to certify vendor technology.

Several sessions at the HIMSS conference will explore the HITECH Act, meaningful use, health information exchange and related issues.

Joyce Lofstrom, spokeswoman, HIMSS

Several sessions at the HIMSS conference will explore the HITECH Act, meaningful use, health information exchange and related issues, Lofstrom said. In addition, the organization has added a second meaningful use workshop to its preconference schedule on Sunday, Feb. 28, because the first workshop sold out, she said.

The conference’s annual Interoperability Showcase will also focus in part on meaningful use. Vendors will demonstrate the interoperability of 70 systems, and there will be a new section within the showcase for the federal government, Lofstrom said.

Finally, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will be demonstrating at the HIMSS conference, and agencies that work with the federal government, such as the National Quality Forum and the Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel, will present their work with standards that allow for a more streamlined flow of information.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Jean DerGurahian, News Writer.

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