Aiming to further advance interoperability in the health IT arena, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives is pressing the Department of Health & Human Services to extend certification criteria to the health information exchange marketplace, officials announced last week.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released a joint request for information in March, outlining several possible changes to policies and programs to advance interoperability and health information exchange.
In its response, CHIME focused on a need to address technical barriers related to exchange.
“CHIME believes that the certification process, developed under the EHR Incentive Payments program, has had a major impact on the adoption and meaningful use of health information technology,” organization officials wrote in its response. “As a policy lever, the impact of certification criteria developed for meaningful use cannot be understated. Thus, CHIME recommends HHS extend the concept toward the health information exchange market, via standard interfaces, standard methods for isolating sensitive information, standard means to securely transport patient care information, standard ways to accurately identify patients and standard protocols for tracking consent.”
The organization also supported payment model changes underway at CMS as a way to advance interoperability by creating a stronger business case for providers to exchange health information.
“CHIME believes CMS should continue the evolution of payment policies toward pay-for-value and away from fee-for-service,” the letter stated. But the letter also urged caution in applying blanket mandates to participate in exchange, adding, “While we believe any model of accountable care delivery cannot be successful without robust technology usage, CHIME believes that forcing miscellaneous exchange through requirements for participation, receipt of incentive payments or avoidance of payment adjustments is a serious proposition – one that needs broad input from stakeholders.”
Another important area highlighted by CHIME in its response, includes the issue of positive patient identification and accurate patient data-matching.
“As exchange increases from other treating providers outside of their primary practice or system, patient data-matching errors and mismatches will become exponentially more problematic and potentially dangerous...While technologies, architectures and strategies exist to mitigate errors, CHIME encourages CMS and ONC to dedicate substantial resources to this foundational challenge.”