Healthcare groups weigh in on ONC interoperability measures
- Healthcare groups provided comments on the HHS" Office of the National Coordinator's (ONC) interoperability measures that the agency must provide by July 1, as required by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA).
- The American Medical Association (AMA) and 36 specialty organizations asked regulators to eliminate measures that focus on quantity of records and instead focus on interoperability and care coordination goals.
- Patient groups, led by the Consumer Partnership for eHealth, stressed the importance of measuring health information exchange throughout the healthcare spectrum, "particularly with long-term care facilities and community-based organizations."
Dr. Steven Stack, AMA president, called the measures "flawed" and wrote, "MACRA gives us a chance to start fresh and produce metrics that enhance the wellness of patients."
The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) had some similar suggestions as the AMA in that the organization urged measuring meaningful use needs to go beyond "meaningful users" and measuring transactions is "insufficient." The group also said data exchange must be useful to clinicians to "drive better clinical decision making," and "improvements to patient care should be the primary measure of interoperability."
Another recommendation by CHIME was to ensure accurate patient identification as being "crucial to interoperability," since accurately identifying and matching patient to their records, securely and with privacy are key.
The Health Information and Management Society, HIMSS, along with the Personal Connected Health Alliance (PCHA) recommended ONC focus on measuring interoperability within two or more systems from different health IT developers, within and across organizations.
"This will allow all the stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem to be considered, with specific assessment of which systems are successfully and securely exchanging data with the various stakeholders (including patients), systems, and applications," their letter stated.
The groups also recommended ONC assess multiple measures that involve various dimensions of interoperability - not just the technical interoperability but also use and how much information is flowing.
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) also sent in recommendations that providers who are "meaningful EHR attesters must exchange information with non-meaningful users who have not yet attested to Meaningful Use, MACRA, the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) or an Alternative Payment Model (APM).
"For this reason, it does not make sense to limit the focus of measurement to only those who are meaningful EHR users," they said. AAFP also recommended "measuring interoperability be harmonized into a single process to reduce administrative burden."