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Nutrition Informatics Blog



Health IT: Four Dietetic Interns' Perspectives

Submitted By Phyllis Fatzinger McShane, MS, RD, LDN,

and Erica Gavey, Christina Kalafsky, DoYoung Stacy Kim, and Christine Spahn, University of Maryland Dietetic Interns

University of Maryland College Park dietetic interns had the opportunity to attend Health IT 101 Basic Training, a lecture sponsored by the e-Health Initiative and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society during National Health IT Week August 16-20, 2013, in Washington, DC.


First observation

A huge number of health information technology (IT) acronyms were used that many of the attendees had never heard before. The undergraduate dietetics students have had little exposure to what is changing in health care as a consequence of the Health Information Technology Act (HITECH) of 2009. Their programs had not discussed HITECH in detail, so much of this was new to them. They also were not very familiar with the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program to encourage acute care hospitals to switch to EHRs. 

Second observation

Eight speakers each had 15 to 20 minutes to cover updates in their areas, which included the Value of Health IT, Health System Transformation, Managing Big Data, Health Information Exchange (HIE), Quality Care, HITECH Privacy/ Security, International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-10 Implementation, and Interoperability (implications with standards development). The students again heard new acronyms, creating a barrier to full understanding, but they definitely left the room with key speaker points.

Advancing HIE: Perspectives from the Field (Kansas)

By Laura McCrary, EdD

Attendees had the privilege of seeing HIE in action. A 10-minute video provided a good understanding of how to use the software. These programs are easy and provide privacy through the “opt-out” option. 

In Kansas, only 40% of referrals made by doctors are to other doctors. The remaining 60% are to other services that are necessary to include in the HIE through an online portal. Even in a state-of-the-art IT system (like Kansas), it is possible to find areas of improvement. These three main areas are unique patient identifiers, interoperability standards, and voluntary HIE certification focused on Stage 3 of Meaningful Use (MU3) measures. 

ICD-10 Industry Update

By Tori Sullivan, MHA, RHIA, PMP

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) mandate for implementation of ICD-10 coding by October 1, 2014, will hold. On this date, the ICD-10 code sets will replace the ICD-9 code sets currently used to report medical diagnoses and inpatient procedures. CMS also is urging industry to communicate with patients on ICD-10 changes. These changes may alter the diagnosis language that patients are used to seeing.

Health IT and Health System

By Patricia MacTaggart, MBA, MMA

Transformation into health IT is a journey, not a destination. Health IT is a tool to lead to better health, lower costs, and better care. Some of the challenges across IT systems include interoperability, privacy, keeping up with the pace of change, cost, valid data, and data analytics capability, just to name a few.

The Omnibus Rule: A Review

By Diane Warner, MS, RHIA, CHPS, FAHIMA

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) Omnibus Rule becomes enforceable on September 23, 2013. This act strengthens and protects patients’ privacy rights and access to their health medical records.

One significant change to HIPPA is that business associates need their own written HIPPA agreements with any subcontractors that handle private health records. Patients now have the ability to request a copy of their EHR in an electronic format. When patients chose to pay for their treatment with cash, they have the option of having their health care provider not share details or any information about their treatment to their health insurance provider.

The future

The dietetic interns left the room with their heads spinning from the large number of acronyms, and from a glimpse at the complexity of the “world of Informatics.” Everyone is looking forward to the new Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ EHR Toolkit, scheduled for release at the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo, because hopefully it will contain the basic information that all interns will need to begin to understand this very complex important area that will impact their future practice.

Presentation PowerPoint® slides are available at


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