Interoperability: Promise and Progress 

Interoperability(1)For healthcare providers and their patients, interoperability holds the promise to substantially improve quality and reduce costs, while enabling coordination of care and engagement of patients with their caregivers. As ONC’s annual Interoperability Forum gets underway, it’s important to focus not just on where we want to be, but on how far we’ve come. 

EHRA members are strong proponents of health information exchange; our members have supported hundreds of thousands of providers in their effort to exchange electronic health information through the development of interoperability modules in their solutions, and participation in industry frameworks such as the eHealth Exchange, CommonWell Health Alliance, and Carequality.  (more…)

Throwing My Hat in the Ring for EHRA

By Alise Widmer, RN

Hat on tableBeginning in 2012, and continuing as I transitioned from one EHR company to another, I was a passive member of EHRA workgroups. Listening in on biweekly calls, I became more impressed by the work that so many volunteers do on behalf of EHRA — especially when you consider it’s in addition to their demanding day jobs. 

I’m inspired by what I’ve observed as sincere passion for the greater good of the healthcare community. Yes, there is also robust advocacy on behalf of the EHR vendor community, but the efforts I’ve witnessed go beyond supporting corporate interests to an embrace of patient safety efforts and other demonstrations of a conscientious stewardship of the role of electronic health records in enhancing patient care. I began to want a more involved role in the association (as opposed to the normal ‘multi-tasking’ I would do during workgroup calls), so last year I decided to “throw my hat in the ring,” and was honored to be appointed as vice chair of the Standards & Interoperability Workgroup when that position became vacant mid-term. (more…)

Health IT and Social Determinants of Health

https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/social-determinants-of-health

In a recent post on the Allscripts Blog, Leigh Burchell, Chair of the EHRA Public Policy Leadership Workgroup and EHRA Opioid Task Force, shared her perspective on policy issues surrounding social determinants of health. She notes that, “it is generally accepted that there is a correlation between social determinants of health and patient outcomes.”
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A Focus on Standards 

Screen Shot 2019-07-04 at 6.19.08 PMOn June 3, EHRA submitted feedback to ONC on its proposed rule, the  21st Century Cures Act: Interoperability, Information Blocking, and the ONC Health IT Certification Program. In this feedback, EHRA members drew on both their expertise as software developers and as contributors to standards work across the health IT industry. 

One theme of EHRA and other stakeholders’ feedback is that a focus on standards is critical. A particular standard proposed recently by ONC is the United States Core Data for Interoperability, or USCDI. USCDI “is a standardized set of health data classes and constituent data elements for nationwide, interoperable health information exchange” and includes important health data classes. 

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EHR Developers are Aligned with Goals of Cures NPRM, Hope ONC will Remove Ambiguity and Reassess Timeline

Screen Shot 2019-05-26 at 9.15.33 PMWe had been waiting for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT to release the proposed rule fulfilling its Cures Act obligation for quite a while. Encompassing important issues like expanded interoperability, defining what is and isn’t information blocking, as well as proposing updated certification requirements, this is an important rule to get right.

Since the release, there have been lots of discussions—public and private, online and off—about intended and potentially unintended impacts of the language in the proposal. With so much to consider and analyze, we appreciate that the request from EHRA and other groups to give us a full three months to draft our comments on the rule was approved.

The tremendously broad reach of the proposed rule goes far beyond Congressional intent.

The EHR Association’s comments are now going through final rounds of review by our executive committee (and the seven workgroups and task forces that contributed their expertise). We worked throughout the drafting of the 21st Century Cures Act with Congress and are supportive of its goal to remove obstacles to information exchange, but we have found that the tremendously broad reach of the proposed rule goes far beyond Congressional intent. In particular, we have significant concerns regarding timelines, ambiguous language, disincentives for innovation, and definitions related to information blocking.

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An EHR Perspective on the Consumer-Focused API/App Landscape

By Hans Buitendijk
EHRA Executive Committee member
Chair, Interoperability & Standards Workgroup

kevin-grieve-712217-unsplashONC’s 2015 Certification Edition for EHRs began supporting consumer access to their health data beyond patient portals. Open APIs were required to enable consumer Apps to access data from the Common Clinical Data Set. Because at the time there were no standards sufficiently mature to establish as a base, the requirement allowed for access by any means as long as the technical specifications, including terms and conditions, were made publicly available to enable App developers to write their Apps on top of these APIs.

A lot has happened since then.
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