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WEDI National Conference Wrap-Up
By Stanley Nachimson

The Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI) hosted more than 500 attendees at its 22nd annual national conference in Las Vegas from May 13 to 16. The agenda featured a wide range of topics regarding the movement of health information among providers, health plans, clearinghouses, health information exchanges (HIEs), and health insurance exchanges. Recent and future developments in the HIT regulatory arena were a key topic during the conference.

Preconference sessions featured critical topics such as education on the recently published omnibus privacy and security rule and discussions about WEDI’s work on the national health plan identifier implementation recommendations. These were some “level-setting” sessions, enabling attendees to educate themselves on recent developments and more fully participate in and contribute to the conference.

Leon Rodriguez, director of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), offered the opening keynote address. He focused on the new requirements of the omnibus regulation and the OCR’s enforcement and auditing efforts. He reviewed some of the results of the organization’s audit pilots and suggested that future audits are forthcoming but would be more focused.

The conference breakout sessions were organized into four tracks: standards and operating rules, privacy and security, ICD-10, and emerging industry issues. Tuesday afternoon sessions highlighted the breadth of industry activities in which WEDI is involved. There were breakout sessions regarding the details of the omnibus privacy and security rule, progress reports on HIEs and lessons learned, business risk management for ICD-10, the impact of the new operating rules mandates for electronic funds transfers and electronic remittance advices, and managing vendors during your ICD-10 implementation. A consortium of state ICD-10 collaboratives presented their progress to date on ICD-10 implementation in their states.

Later sessions focused on the ICD-10 end-to-end testing pilot, an industry first sponsored by HIMSS and WEDI. This first-of-a-kind effort is attempting to show the industry how a collaborative approach to ICD-10 testing can be more efficient and provide better and faster testing results.

Other key topics included HIPAA enforcement, using electronic prior authorization standards to increase efficiencies, and a session on the recently announced “WEDI Report for the 21st Century: Building a Roadmap for the Future,” which WEDI hopes will spur the industry to further actions, just as the initial WEDI report spurred Congress to pass the HIPAA administrative simplification provisions.

Wednesday’s sessions continued to expand on a range of topics. The first general session provided a glimpse of what could be the health care industry’s future as we struggle to include consumer empowerment and detailed analytics in our business models. Several sessions on ICD-10 testing indicated both the progress made to date by individual health plans and some providers as well as the obstacles to extensive ICD-10 testing. There is an overall recognition that testing for ICD-10 is vastly different than prior HIPAA testing, as it must test the business processes more thoroughly than has been done before. End-to-end testing will be critical to ensure successful implementation.

Other sessions on Wednesday supplied information on standards for other-party liability processes, WEDI recommendations for the upcoming claims attachment standards, actual scenarios for bundled payment billing, the use of the direct exchange protocol for meaningful use stage 2, accountable care organization challenges and solutions, and a health insurance exchange overview.

Thursday’s half day of sessions also provided a wide range of topics for attendees. The opening general session discussed the current and future state of US HIEs, with breakout sessions following that focused on mobile device security, the electronic remittance advice and electronic funds transfers, and a session on how organizations are using HIEs to achieve meaningful use. The final session highlighted the health plan identifier enumeration strategies of two major national health plans, UnitedHealthcare and Aetna; their considerations in enumeration; and how they differed.

Attendees were impressed by the breadth of topics and the expertise demonstrated. WEDI announced that, as a result of the state ICD-10 collaborative presentation and response to that session, the organization will form a collaborative workgroup of the state groups to allow them to continue learning from each other and cooperating on critical issues and products.

— Stanley Nachimson is principal of HIT consulting firm Nachimson Advisors.