Accelerating Health Information Exchange

HHS Releases New Strategy for Accelerating Health Information Exchange

Back in March the HHS requested input on a series of potential policy and programmatic changes to accelerate electronic health information exchange across providers, as well as new ideas that would be both effective and feasible to implement. From the input received, CMS and ONC have developed and now published, Principles and Strategy for Accelerating Health Information Exchange. The strategies were discussed in the joint webinar that CMS and ONC hosted on August 7th.

HHS recognizes that the actual exchange of health information needs to be both interoperable and electronic across myriad information systems for us to realize a patient-centered, value-driven health care system.

  • Interoperability is generally accepted to mean the ability of two or more systems or components to exchange information and use the information that has been exchanged.1 That means that there are two steps to interoperability: 1) the ability to exchange information; and 2) the ability to use the information that has been exchanged.
  • Electronic HIE encompasses a broad array of strategies, technologies, types of exchange, and applications to share information. The use of HIE facilitates better communication and enables more coordinated and connected care across the full continuum of health delivery and payment settings.

The Strategy and Principles highlight HHS policy goals and ways HHS will further advance HIE beyond the current Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs and ONC certification programs. These Principles and Strategies include:

  • New HHS regulations and guidance on existing programs will enable a patient’s health information to follow them wherever they access care with appropriate privacy and security safeguards.
  • HHS programs will advance HIE across providers including long-term and post-acute care, behavioral health, and laboratory providers.
  • HHS will advance multi-stakeholder development of standards, including an interoperability and certification road map that will serve as a transparent planning tool to guide standards development, adoption, and HIT certification.
  • HHS will build upon and move beyond the foundation of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs and the ONC HIT Certification Program.
  • HHS will work to align HIT standards for quality measurement and improvement across Medicare and Medicaid.
  • HHS will implement policies that encourage electronic HIE incrementally and evolve from incentive and reward structures to electronic HIE as a standard business practice for providers.