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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Meaningful Use Stage 3 Is Here and We’re Ready to Respond

We recently saw the release of the 732 pages of the CMS Stage 3 Meaningful Use Proposed Rule and ONC’s Proposed Rule on 2015 Edition Certification. The EHRA Meaningful Use and Certification Workgroups have been gearing up to review and comment on these rules for a while so we have already started looking at the eight proposed objectives and 68 proposed certification criteria.

The scope of what is proposed for certification in this NPRM goes beyond what is proposed to be part of the Meaningful Use program, so other EHRA workgroups are also focused on reviewing the material pertinent to their areas of expertise.  We’re committed to detailed review and developing EHRA’s responses for submission by the May 29th deadline.

Our work depends on the deep expertise of EHRA members and their users!  We strongly encourage your involvement. You’ll have the opportunity to learn from the insights of industry experts in our educational calls, discussions, and consensus based positioning. Participating in EHRA’s work will give you an advantage when working on your own company’s feedback.  Also, you’ll be well positioned to engage your users in what the new proposals might mean for their practices and to encourage them to participate in the public comment process.

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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.