National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics

Executive Subcommittee Conference Call

February 25, 2005

Final Summary

A conference call was scheduled for February 25th from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. to discuss:  1) NCVHS Membership, 2) Subcommittee/Workgroup chairmanship transitions, 3) The March 3-4, 2005 full Committee Meeting agenda, and 4) Upcoming meetings of the Executive Subcommittee and NCVHS and the NCVHS/BSC executive leadership meeting.



  • Simon Cohn, M.D., M.P.H.
  • Robert Hungate
  • Harry Reynolds
  • Mark Rothstein, J.D.
  • Donald Steinwachs, Ph.D.


  • Jeffrey Blair

Staff and Liaisons:

  • Marjorie Greenberg, Executive Secretary
  • Jim Scanlon, Executive Staff Director
  • Judith Berek, Liaison, CMS
  • Audrey Burwell, OMH
  • Maria Friedman, D.B.A., CMS
  • Kathleen Fyffe, ASPE
  • Debbie Jackson, NCHS
  • Katherine Jones, NCHS
  • Vickie Mays, Ph.D., M.S.P.H. (former NCVHS Member)
  • Anna Poker, AHRQ
  • Steve Steindel, Ph.D., Liaison, CDC
  • Marietta Squire, NCHS


  • Virginia Cain, Ph.D., Liaison, NIH
  • Michael Fitzmaurice, Ph.D., Liaison, AHRQ
  • Aldona Robbins, Ph.D., Liaison, BSC
  • Ed Sondik, Ph.D., Liaison, NCHS

Simon opened the discussion at 11:05 a.m. with introductions and brief remarks.  He also reminded the chairs of each subcommittee/workgroup to query committee members about conflicts of interest at the beginning of each subcommittee/workgroup meeting.  Harry Reynolds asked for any standard language to use when posing this to the membership.  Simon indicated that we must ask for members of the committee to disclose whether there is a conflict of interest as our standard operating procedure.  The conflict would be in relationship to the agenda.  The Executive Secretary can bring forth information regarding conflicts and disclose such if the members are not forthcoming.  Only the members have to declare whether there is a conflict, no need for staff members or witnesses to make such a declaration.  Mark agreed to forward some language to Simon that the chairs might find useful.

1) NCVHS Membership Update:

Simon has held several calls with committee members in the last few weeks.  We do have three new members as well as a resignation from Peggy Handrich.  Peggy will be missed as she gave wonderful perspectives and contributed greatly in the area of the state health needs.  Judy Berek inquired about providing names of state Medicaid Directors who might be good candidates to fill Peggy’s vacancy.  She will talk to folks in CMS for recommendations, particularly someone who works in the public health area, as well.  Judy will get back to us with any updates.   .

Simon has spoken to all three new members, Carol McCall, William Scanlon, and Paul Tang.   Ms. McCall has experience in electronic signatures, health care IT, and actuary science and is most interested in joining the Subcommittee on Populations.  Bill Scanlon is a well-known health researcher.  He chaired the NCVHS Subcommittee on Long Term Care Statistics in the 1980’s.  He has interest in the Subcommittee on Populations and the NHII.  Paul Tang is a medical information officer whom Simon has known for over twenty years.  He also has an interest in NHII.  There is an orientation scheduled via conference phone for new members on Monday, 2/28 at 3:00 p.m.  Marjorie, Jim, Debbie, and Katherine will review information provided to them in the in the NCVHS Reference Book.  Kathleen Fyffe indicated that the Privacy Subcommittee has a new lead staff, Maya Bernstein, and it may benefit her to participate in the orientation.  Maya was hired by Jim Scanlon to replace John Fanning as the Privacy Advocate for the Department.  Kathleen is in the process of providing an orderly transition.  Kathleen expects to continue as staff to the subcommittee.  Beverly Dozier from CDC was also recently appointed as new staff and perhaps should participate in the orientation.  Debbie will follow-up with both new staff members.

After next week’s full Committee Meeting, we will officially assign new members to subcommittees and workgroups, per their preferences and confirmation by the NCVHS Chair.  They will need time next week to become familiar with the various subcommittees and workgroups before officially deciding on subcommittee assignments.  The new members will not be voting members unless they have submitted their 450’s to CDC Ethics Office.  Marjorie will follow-up to determine the status for each new member. (Subsequently, Marjorie confirmed that all three had submitted their documentation and have been cleared for participation.)

2) Subcommittee/Workgroup Chairmanship Transitions:

Harry Reynolds and Jeff Blair will co-chair the Subcommittee on Standards and Security.  Simon will remain a member of that subcommittee.  Mark Rothstein will continue as chair for the Subcommittee on Privacy and Confidentiality.  Don Steinwachs will chair the Subcommittee on Populations.  Bob Hungate will continue as chair of the Workgroup on Quality.  Simon decided that, based on tradition, the chair of the full Committee will also chair the Workgroup on NHII.  Simon is asking all chairs to consider vice-chairs for their respective subcommittees/workgroups.  Vice chairs have not been considered members of the Executive Subcommittee, but can proxy for the chairs as necessary.  Simon noted the need to empower all NCVHS members.

Subcommittee on Populations — Donald Steinwachs and Vickie Mays will discuss further plans for the Subcommittee on Populations.  Bob Hungate will join the Subcommittee on Populations as a member, and Don already is a member of the Quality Workgroup..

Workgroup on Quality – there are no action items for next week’s meeting.  The workgroup will discuss future plans and strategize on goals at the break-out session.

Subcommittee on Standards and Security — Harry and Jeff will bring forward the two action items: Letter on e-Prescribing and Letter with comments on the NPRM (e-Prescribing and Prescription Drug Use).  Harry will discuss with Jeff how he would like to proceed during the Full Committee presentation of the action items.

Simon indicated that he is talking with Committee members (and planning on contacting staff) to determine how things are working for the overall Committee.  Everybody seems to think everything is moving along very well.  Everybody also talked about the idea that every subcommittee or workgroup needs to have well articulated goals and workplans.  Everyone should be comfortable that the workplans are meaningful and value added.  Every workgroup and subcommittee has to get to the point that it can produce a two to three page outline that describes what it is doing.  There are issues regarding new staff – particularly finding them and keeping them and how we can help them be successful in their roles assisting the Committee.  We need to also review whether we are using the services of consultants in a meaningful way.  We will review these issues over the next several months.

Simon indicated that we need to review the relevancy of our work products and think very carefully about when/why we do reports versus letters.  We need to be moving towards shorter means of communications as opposed to reports.  There is the issue of actionable recommendations – what is the value added to the Department?  High level recommendations may sound good, but they aren’t actionable, what purpose do they serve?  Lacking participation of a staff member who is actively involved in the subject matter within the Department is another issue that we must consider.  Marjorie indicated that we must think in terms of balance: the committee has served a very important role in being ahead of the curve in putting out ideas that are not necessarily ready for action, but have tremendous influence.  For instance, the 21st Century report was very solid and included a wealth of information.  Dr. Brailer has now identified it as a vehicle for future actions to improve population health.  Marjorie suggested that the Committee will be failing if it focuses exclusively on things that the Department is ready to implement.  There are numerous outside stakeholders who are looking to the Committee for forward thinking and leadership.  Simon agreed that we need to have a vision but emphasized that all reports need to have a schedule and a workplan and should include some action items, even if they can’t be achieved in the short-term.  There will be fuller discussion of these issues in future Executive Subcommittee meetings.

3) NCVHS Full Committee Meeting – March 3-4, 2005

Populations Report – Vickie would like to take the recommendations back to the Subcommittee on Populations.  The Subcommittee can offer an update at the meeting next week as opposed to an action item.  Perhaps fifteen to thirty minutes will be assigned on the agenda to discuss the overall report and the recommendations.  The report is now scheduled to come to the Full Committee in June.

We will have an update from the Department.  Jim will introduce the new Privacy Advocate just hired in ASPE.

The Subcommittee on Privacy and Confidentiality will present a letter regarding medical devices.  The Subcommittee on Standards and Security will present two letters on e-Prescribing.   Debbie will send out the NPRM letter after this call.

Research Ideas for the 2003-2004 Report – we have summarized the actions and recommendations from the Populations Subcommittee.  However, other subcommittees have not been forthcoming with the requested information.  The members and staff have not embraced this project as much as we would have liked.  An outline of the biennial report has been approved and a draft report will be brought forward at the June meeting.  The draft will circulate to the Executive Subcommittee prior to circulation to the Full Committee.

We will have an overall NCHS update from Dr. Sondik.  We will also have an NCHS/BSC update from Aldona Robbins (this may be her last meeting as a BSC Member).  Dan Melnick will provide a Geo-Coding update.

ANSI Health Informatics Standards Board (ANSI HISB) – they want to give an update from various ANSI HISB workgroups, as well as International Standards Organization Technical Committee 215 (ISO TC215) and the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG).  They would like to coordinate better with NCVHS and have asked Dr. Brailer that they be recognized as the body to coordinate national standards groups.  It might be a useful discussion for the Full Committee to go through, after establishing the context in which they will present.  We should set-up a conference call to talk about what they would like to discuss with the Committee.  We need to ask them the purpose of their participation, and the issues they expect to cover at the June meeting.  Their official request was to participate in a panel presentation with the NCVHS to discuss how they might coordinate more closely with the Committee.  Marjorie will send an E-mail to Bob Owens, Chair of ANSI/HISB, requesting more information.

Status of ICD-10 recommendations – several people have raised questions as to what the status is of the recommendations sent to the Department last year.  Jim indicated that it might be appropriate for the NCVHS Chair to meet with someone in the Department to discuss the status of these recommendations.  We should not be having open sessions for the Committee to get this type of feedback, but rather the Executive Subcommittee or the chair meet with departmental leadership.

4) Executive Subcommittee Meetings/Retreat

Executive Subcommittee — We are going to be having an Executive Subcommittee Retreat this summer.  One item of interest is to make sure everyone is comfortable with the various Committee roles.  We will be polling soon for dates in August.  We may also be able to hold a one-day session in late April or May to discuss goals, strategies, and next steps for the Committee.  We should also consider adding a half day to the June Full Committee Meeting for the Executive Subcommittee.  Marjorie and Simon will talk further to brainstorm on ideas, dates, etc.

Call adjourned at 1:10 p.m.