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Letter Asking for Support of Public Health Reporting through the Pennsylvania Patient & Provider Network

January 22, 2014

Secretary Beverly Mackereth                
Department of Public Welfare 
Office of the Secretary 
Health and Welfare Building 
625 Forster Street 
Harrisburg, PA 17120 
Secretary Michael Wolf 
Department of Health 
Office of the Secretary 
Health and Welfare Building 
625 Forster Street 
Harrisburg, PA 17120 

Dear Secretaries Mackereth and Wolf: 

Electronic health records (EHR) and the exchange of health information can provide many benefits for health care providers and their patients, however, the benefits depend on connectivity of disparate health systems and the effective use of the data exchanged. That is why The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) has been a strong supporter of the development of regional and statewide health information exchange activity.      

Tremendous efforts have been put forth to achieve the necessary transformations to enable the benefits that can be achieved. In particular, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act provided for the creation of incentive programs to improve health care quality, safety, and efficiency through the promotion of health IT, including EHRs and the private and secure electronic health information exchange (HIE). Under HITECH, eligible health care professionals and hospitals can qualify for Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments when they adopt certified EHR technology and meet specific “meaningful use” measures and timelines. Beginning during 2015, eligible providers and hospitals that fail to meet increasingly aggressive meaningful use requirements will be subject to Medicare payment penalties.

We are writing to ask for your active support and advancement of the commonwealth’s HIE strategic plans for state agency connectivity to the Pennsylvania eHealth Partnership Authority’s Pennsylvania Patient & Provider Network (P3N), formerly known as the community shared services (CSS) platform. Establishing the public health gateway from P3N to the meaningful use-related functions within the Departments of Health and Public Welfare enables the functionality required to meet Medicare’s and Medicaid’s meaningful use Stage 2.   

While the Authority is creating P3N to support the exchange of information across the commonwealth and encouraging providers to adopt EHR technology, your support and advocacy for public health reporting through the network is essential for the timely on-board processes required for the Departments of Health and Public Welfare.   

Your support, in advance of the July 1, 2014, usage window for meaningful use (fourth quarter of federal fiscal year 2014 for hospitals), will help to ensure that operational resources are available to support providers in achieving the data quality and reporting timeframes necessary under their meaningful use reporting obligations. This includes business functions for syndromic surveillance, cancer, immunization, and lab registries as well as quality reporting and meaningful use incentive reporting.   

Again, we urge you to actively support the Authority’s efforts to better enable public health reporting over the next five months. If you have questions, or if we can be of further assistance, please feel free to contact me. You may also contact HAP’s vice president, research, Martin Ciccocioppo, at  (717) 561-5363.   

Sincerely,      

Andy Carter
President and Chief Executive Officer       

c: Alix Goss, Executive Director, Pennsylvania eHealth Partnership Authority

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