The meaningful use EHR adoption incentive program is merely the beginning phase of a long-term shift in how health care is reimbursed. That was the message delivered by Todd Park, the chief technology officer at the Department of Health and Human Services, who addressed a gathering of community health leaders in Chicago on April 27. "Meaningful use is a bridge to the main event--health reform," he said. "There has never been a better time to innovate in health I.T."

In the shift away from fee-for-service reimbursement, the federal government will embrace a variety of payment models. Among them are such data-intensive efforts as medical homes, accountable care organizations and bundled payment reimbursements, Park noted. He described a new role for HHS in the I.T. marketplace, one as facilitator of unbridled innovation. "We want 1,000 flowers blooming," Park said. "The government is not the innovator, but the government can help the industry succeed."

Toward that end, HHS will increasingly open its vast trove of historical data to the industry in hopes of soliciting new applications that can identify care delivery problems and cost reduction opportunities, Park said. Already, HHS has sponsored competitions inviting software developers to design new applications for consumers and providers.

Park directed the audience to an HHS Web site,, as a portal to the various efforts with access to data banks to support them. "It's the uber-warehouse," Park said.

--Gary Baldwin


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