Advocating for Cardiology in the Nation’s Capital

The ACC’s 2015 Legislative Conference is in full swing in Washington, DC. The conference kicked off on Sunday night with a special ACC Political Action Committee-sponsored reception and dinner featuring remarks from Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist, political commentator and psychiatrist Charles Krauthammer, MD. In the midst of a unique congressional climate, Krauthammer shared an insider’s perspective into the state of politics in Washington and the 2016 presidential election.

Today, a full lineup of sessions armed more than 400 attendees with the information needed to effect change in their states and on Capitol Hill. While it’s important for attendees to understand the health policy landscape every year, it’s more important than ever in 2015. Recent developments, including repeal of the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) by enactment of the Medicare Access and CHIP Authorization Act of 2015, release of new Meaningful Use regulations and ICD-10 implementation, have significantly shifted how health care is delivered, resulting in novel challenges and opportunities. Continue reading

ACC Advocacy Is Shaping the Future of Cardiology

Williams HeadshotThis post was authored by ACC President Kim Allan Williams Sr., MD, FACC.

Starting today, over 400 cardiovascular professionals are gathering in Washington, DC, for the ACC’s 2015 Legislative Conference. The purpose of this annual event is to tell lawmakers about the difference ACC members make in the lives of patients and share the College’s vision for continuing the advancement of cardiovascular care. Even if you aren’t attending Legislative Conference, it’s important to stay abreast of issues facing cardiology and get involved with ACC’s advocacy efforts to ensure decisions made in Washington and in the states are in the best interest of patients, providers and practices. Continue reading

What’s the Health IT Policy Landscape?

MirroThis post was authored by Michael Joseph Mirro, MD, FACC, a member of the ACC’s Informatics and Health Information Technology Task Force, CQC FOCUS Committee and NCDR Value Work Group.

It’s been a roller coaster year for health information technology (IT) policy. From congressional hearings to the release of numerous rules, several recent developments are sure to shape the future of health IT.

Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) released two final rules that align all three stages of Meaningful Use. The joint rule release was a twist in events given that the House of Medicine, including the ACC, has been pushing the agencies to delay Meaningful Use Stage 3 and the finalizing of 2015 Electronic Health Record (EHR) Certification criteria due to concerns that implementation is moving too quickly. However, CMS and ONC decided to finalize program requirements for the 2015-2017 reporting periods and combine Meaningful Use into one single stage. According to the agencies, the alignment aims “to advance electronic health records with added simplicity and flexibility.” The current enterprise health IT systems suffer from lack of fluid clinical usability and interoperability because the systems are designed to primarily focus on administrative data capture. This supports charge capture but also requires clinician documentation to support Meaningful Use compliance. The current final rule may help to some degree yet much work needs to occur to support the evolution of the systems so that clinicians can focus on the patient interaction and not clerical work during routine visits. Continue reading

National Health IT Week: Why Interoperability Matters

1_Tcheng_photo1This post was authored by James E. Tcheng, MD, FACC, chair of the ACC’s Informatics and Health Information Technology Task Force.

National Health IT Week, Oct. 5-9, is an opportunity to discuss how advancing the adoption and use of health information technology (IT) can help improve patient care. Comprehensive health care reform is not possible without system-wide adoption of health IT. Health IT potentially improves the quality of health care delivery, increases patient safety, decreases medical errors and strengthens the interaction between patients and health care providers.

As part of its dedication to health IT, the ACC is working to advance health informatics, a growing field of health care about all things having to do with data and information flowing through the health care ecosystem. One of ACC’s primary health informatics priorities is promoting and advocating for data standards and interoperability across the health care spectrum. Continue reading

FDA Hot Topics: Two Novel Drug Approvals, User Fee Act Reauthorization and Off-Label Marketing

Kovacs headshotThis post was authored by Richard J. Kovacs, MD, FACC, member of ACC’s Board of Trustees.

It’s been a busy summer for U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) news. Several key decisions made by the Agency and the courts in recent months are sure to impact medicine in the months and years to come.

Of course the big FDA headline in July was the Agency’s approval of the first proprotein convertase subtilisin kexin type 9 (PCSK9) inhibitor – Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ Praluent (alirocumab) – for the treatment of patients with familial hypercholesterolemia or clinical atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease in conjunction with maximally tolerated statin therapy and diet modification. The FDA is expected to make a decision about a second PCSK9 inhibitor – Amgen’s Repatha (evolocumab) – later this summer. This new class of lipid-lowering drugs has the potential to offer millions of patients with high LDL-C an alternative treatment option to statins, which have been associated with numerous side effects for decades. Continue reading

Population Health and Primary Prevention in the Spotlight

MartinThis post was authored by Gerard R. Martin, MD, FACC, chair of the ACC’s Population Health Policy and Health Promotion Committee.

We’re currently at a crossroads of health care delivery and health promotion. Up until now, we, as cardiovascular professionals, have been laser focused on secondary prevention, only scraping the surface of primary prevention. While technological and educational advances over the last few decades have resulted in a significant reduction of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the U.S., the burden of CVD is set to increase 57 percent by 2020 worldwide.

To adjust to this new landscape, we must shift the paradigm from treatment to prevention and begin moving towards population health if we want to kick CVD off the list as the world’s #1 killer. This is no easy task. Population health – which is at a complex intersection between an increasingly diverse population, an evolving health care system, traditional public health and elaborate social policies – is not easy to define. I can guarantee that each and every one of us has a different perspective on the topic, making it difficult to come to a consensus on how best to move forward. Continue reading

ACC on Capitol Hill: Health Information Blocking is a Threat to Patients and Practices

MIrroThis post was authored by Michael J. Mirro, MD, FACC, a member of the ACC’s Informatics and Health Information Technology Task Force.

Today, I had the opportunity to testify on Capitol Hill about the important issue of health information blocking, unforeseen problems that have been created by electronic health records (EHRs), and possible solutions to help improve care during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing titled “Achieving the Promise of Health Information Technology: Information Blocking and Potential Solutions.”

This spring, Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) announced their aim to accomplish five items related to interoperability of EHRs, including health information blocking, by the end of the year—whether through legislative means or an administrative fix. To accomplish this goal, the Senate HELP Committee has been hard at work soliciting feedback from stakeholder organizations, including the ACC, to help them pave a path forward. Continue reading

Advancing Health IT and Improving Patient Care

The ACC Informatics and Health Information Technology Task Force is charged with the infusion, coordination and harmonization of informatics and health information technology (HIT) into the activities and policies of the College. While Task Force members hail from across the U.S., they are united in their dedication to facilitating, promoting and accelerating the transformation of quality cardiovascular care. These members are hard at work addressing data interoperability, promoting electronic health record (EHR) adoption, coordinating EHR vendor engagement, developing tools and strategies to improve the operational efficiencies and effectiveness of ACC registries, and providing leadership and outreach to internal and external organizations. Continue reading

Is Your Electronic Health Record Working For You and Your Patients?

Shor HeadshotA recent New York Times article titled “Tech Rivalries Impede Digital Medical Record Sharing” addresses a critical issue for medicine – data blocking. In addition to high fees charged by some vendors for access to records, a lack of consistency in file formats among vendors prevents electronic medical records from meeting their potential to improve patient care.

Different electronic medical record vendors collect data in varying formats, making it difficult to share information without additional data entry and creating gaps that reduce the value of the health records to doctors and patients. If the issues of exorbitant fees and consistency across platforms are not addressed, electronic medical records will unfortunately be an added burden that does not meet its huge potential for advancing the quality of medical care in this nation.     Continue reading

MOC Update: ACC Seeking Urgent Resolution to Early Career MOC Requirements

Williams HeadshotShor HeadshotThis post was authored by ACC President Kim Allan Williams Sr., MD, FACC, and Board of Governors Chair Robert Shor, MD, FACC.

The complex situation presented by the American Board of Internal Medicine’s (ABIM) changes in Maintenance of Certification (MOC) requirements continues to be a top priority for ACC leadership.

Most recently, the College was made aware of an email from ABIM to early career cardiovascular professionals who passed the Cardiovascular Disease Certification Exam in 2014. That email informed them of the need to enroll in Maintenance of Certification (MOC) by March 31, 2015, in order to be publicly reported as certified in Cardiovascular Disease. It also stated their certification would remain valid as long as they are participating in MOC. Continue reading