To Improve Patient Access to Data, Providers and Developers Need Clarity on Regulatory Requirements, Not a Focus on Compliance and Penalties

By the EHR Association Executive Committee

Recently, a blog post appeared on the Health Affairs website* painting a gloomy picture of patient access to their electronic health information and suggesting a new theory on how HIPAA can be used to accelerate expansion of interoperability.HA blog quote

Disappointingly, this timely blog post makes inflammatory and inaccurate assertions about EHR vendors, regulatory requirements, and progress made toward interoperable health records.  It also seemingly advocates for a “gotcha” system of penalizing potential missteps by providers and developers, which is the wrong approach to encouraging information sharing.

EHR developers provide tools to help our customers care for patients and increase these patients’ access to their health information. The assertion that individuals “struggle to get their information out of EHRs in an electronic format” overstates the situation and does not reflect progress made.  Although the extent of exchange is not yet where the healthcare industry collectively would like it to be, interoperability is growing quickly between providers, as well as between providers and patients.

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Interoperability Framework Should Build Upon Existing Technology

This week, EHRA submitted comments to ONC regarding the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures) Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement implementation.

You can read EHRA’s recommendations here.  Our comments focus primarily on: (more…)

Briefing Congress on the Importance of Interoperability

On June 7, 2016, the EHR Association sponsored a briefing for Congressional staff engaged in crafting proposed legislation that addresses interoperability.  EHRA member company, Allscripts, invited their client Stephen Nuckolls, CEO of Coastal Carolina Health Care (New Bern, North Carolina, U.S.A.), to participate as a panelist, along with four other healthcare provider organization executives. Their blog post shares some of his comments at the briefing, which covered successes and areas for improvement with health information technology.

EHRA Responds to ONC’s Interoperability Roadmap

After many conference calls, and lots of “on the job training” using Google Docs to manage the edits of many contributors, we were pleased to submit our response to ONC’s Interoperability Roadmap. . . just in time to start working on the interoperability aspects of the proposed rule for Stage 3 of the EHR Incentive Program . . .and to get ready for HIMSS15!

Overall, we’re positive about the framework the draft Roadmap is starting to put in place, its identified principles, and the pragmatic review of well-established and emerging interoperability standards and technologies. We did express some concern that ONC seems to view the many active, and increasingly successful, interoperability initiatives as a problem to be solved rather than work to inform go-forward strategies with valuable experiences to be built upon. In doing so, we provided some positive suggestions on how to approach interoperability governance in ways that rely on and leverage private sector efforts in the context of an effective public/private partnership.

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Federal Health IT Policy: Where is it heading and why should you care?

(November 4, 2014)  Mark Segal, EHRA Chair (GE Healthcare IT), comments on future directions in federal health IT policy that are taking shape.  We are starting to see clear, reinforcing themes from Congress, the Administration, policy experts, and key stakeholders.
See the full post at the GE Healthcare blog.

Is federal regulation of health IT going to ease up to allow for more innovation?

(July 14, 2014) Read EHRA Chair Mark Segal’s blog post on how he sees regulators responding to persistent requests from the private sector and a variety of stakeholder organizations (including EHRA) to design Stage 3 of the meaningful use incentive program to build on lessons learned from Stages 1 and 2, and focus on interoperability and alignment of quality measures and reporting across government programs.