To Advance Health IT Interoperability and Improve Patient-Centered Care, Complementing CMS and ONC Proposed Rules
The Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC) (@HealthInFocus) and Bipartisan Policy Center (@BPC_Bipartisan) are releasing a new report that recommends public and private sector actions that will advance health information technology (IT) interoperability, giving providers easier access to patients’ clinical data and empowering individuals with increased access to their own health information. The actions support better health and higher quality, safer, more cost-effective, patient-centered care. Several recommendations in the report align with proposed rules just released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC).
The report was the result of a year-long effort developed through the insights of more than 100 leaders representing clinicians, hospitals and health systems, health plans, life sciences organizations, technology and data analytics companies, and patients.
A discussion about the report and the proposed rules was held with National Coordinator for Health IT Donald Rucker, M.D., and chief executives representing clinicians, hospitals, technology companies, and patients during HIMSS 2019. Participants can also watch the webcast. Media both at the event and viewing online had the opportunity to ask questions of private sector leaders regarding the proposed actions to advance data interoperability.
While the vast majority of physicians and hospitals in the United States are now using electronic health records, not all of these systems are interoperable. About one in 10 office-based physicians have electronically sent, received, searched for or found, and integrated patient health information from other providers outside their organizations, while 41 percent of hospitals have done the same.
“Critical patient information is getting lost in translation when doctors and other clinicians try to share it across health systems or state lines,” said Mary R. Grealy, HLC president. “This has detrimental effects on patient care because a clinician may not have the full picture of a patient’s history, or worse, has the wrong history altogether.”
HLC and BPC‘s report outlines how the public and private sectors can work together to improve the flow of patients’ health information across different technology systems and care settings to not only improve care, but also to support individuals in managing their health and healthcare.
“The recommendations in this report are designed to bring better data to the bedside, the exam room, and to patients,” said former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, a BPC co-founder. “Interoperability of systems, information sharing, and data access play a critical role in improving health outcomes, lowering heathcare costs, and improving the patient experience of care, as we move towards new healthcare delivery and payment systems.”
“It is imperative that we make it easier for patients to access and own their health information, said former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, M.D., a BPC senior fellow. “When patients have more control of their health records, they are more likely to feel empowered to better manage their health and to ask questions to their doctors about their healthcare. Ultimately, they will see better outcomes.” Report recommendations include:
- Improving the business case for interoperability through collaboration among payers and providers, as well as providers and their health IT vendors, to agree on and implement shared expectations for interoperability, which can come in the form of model contract language or other mechanisms.
- Strengthening the technical infrastructure for interoperability by adopting common, baseline standards to improve patient matching across systems, pursuing rapid adoption of HL7 FHIR® application programming interfaces (APIs) to accelerate information sharing, and prioritizing and including testing of interoperability in future ONC Health IT Certification Program requirements.
- Voluntarily adopting a common “notice of information access” and aligning consent policies for substance use disorder treatment under 42 CFR Part 2, as well as state privacy laws with HIPAA to make it easier for individuals and their providers to gain access to data to improve health and healthcare.
- Expanding public and private sector collaboration on measuring interoperability progress and developing and executing private sector actions to drive improvements.
“Consumers should have the same convenient access to their health information that they do in other aspects of their lives such as checking their bank accounts on their phones,” said Neil de Crescenzo, president and CEO of Change Healthcare and chairman of HLC. “In healthcare, the stakes are even higher. Interoperable, accessible data translates into improved health outcomes and longer lives.”
Together, HLC and BPC believe implementing the actions identified in this report will accelerate interoperability and information sharing, advance more patient-centric care, and improve the health and healthcare of our nation.
About the Healthcare Leadership Council
The Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC), a coalition of chief executives from all disciplines within American healthcare, is the exclusive forum for the nation’s healthcare leaders to jointly develop policies, plans, and programs to achieve their vision of a 21st century system that makes affordable, high-quality care accessible to all Americans.
About the Bipartisan Policy Center
The Bipartisan Policy Center is a non-profit organization that combines the best ideas from both parties to promote health, security, and opportunity for all Americans. BPC drives principled and politically viable policy solutions through the power of rigorous analysis, painstaking negotiation, and aggressive advocacy. As a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that actively promotes bipartisanship, BPC works to address the key challenges facing the nation.