IT Practice Consulting – Health IT Report –
“Healthcare Experts Weigh In
On Interoperability, EHR Advancement”
The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) called on the nation’s leading healthcare and health IT professionals in a recent article analyzing the known benefits and consequences of EHR systems. Author Lisa A. Eramo, MA endorses the dialogue as “a status check on health IT adoption and standardization efforts” in relation to the advancement of patient-centric, quality care. The article also boasts the insider perspectives of headline industry experts such as John D. Halamka, MD, MS, Chief Information Officer at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Vice President and Chief Health Transformation Officer at IBM Watson Health, Paul Tang, MD. These experts examine recurring issues and milestones in the past ten years of rapid health IT implementation, specifically within the “meaningful use” EHR Incentive Program. Moreover, they highlight three significant hurdles for the future of health IT: bolstering interoperability, reestablishing a “business case,” and preventing information blocking.
Read the entire report here: Health IT Time Out: Where is the US Healthcare System on Interoperability and a Quality Strategy?
Meaningful Use and Interoperability
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 authorized the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide incentive payments to eligible professionals (EPs) and hospitals who adopt, implement, upgrade, or demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health record (EHR) technology to stimulate the adoption, and subsequent “meaningful use,” of digitized health information. Despite the initiative’s objective success, – Eramo reports that 96 percent of hospitals and 78 percent of office-based physicians currently possess a certified EHR – the lasting effects of sweeping EHR implementation has left some experts torn. John D. Halamka, MD, MS praises meaningful use for its advancement of immunization registries and coordinated care amongst physicians: “You could argue that no other industry has automated so quickly.” Conversely, Paul Tang, MD advises that current federal incentives lack the “value-based payment reform” necessary to promote true interoperability between medical practices. Although Eramo notes that interoperability was always a key aspect of the original provisions, it remains a key goal of EHR development in upcoming years.
Read more about the ONC’s interoperable guidelines here: ONC Report, Proposed Interoperability Standards Measurement
Providing a “Business Case”
Nicole Miller, MS, RHIA, president of Miller and Miller Associates in Lockport, NY, reports that the advancement of EHR technologies is dependent on continuing to provide a “business case” for medical professionals nationwide. Miller asserts that federal incentives were indisputably the momentum behind EHR implementation, but encourages the medical community to emphasize the non-financial benefits in the future. Similarly, Eramo notes that more established physicians simply don’t recognize the improvements that EHRs make to patient-quality care and health data analytics, which undermines the success of these systems. For example, EHR systems are proven to decrease misdiagnosis, prevent opioid abuse, and personalize preventive care. Furthermore, Tang posits that healthcare professionals will receive even more informational return on investments (ROIs) as EHRs increase coordinated care.
Read more on EHR technology and preventative care here: Studies Show that EHR Technology Leads to Improvements in Patient Care
Preventing Information Blocking
In the article, Eramo asks readers to redefine the concept of “successful” health IT adoption by moving away from quantitative measurements and towards intangible, interoperable milestones. Mark E. Frisse, MD, MS, MBA, professor in the Department of Biomedical Informatics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, echoes this sentiment: “It’s time to move away from the EHR as the center of the universe and focus on the broader system of care.” Moreover, the participating experts unanimously identify information blocking – intentionally preventing the “access, exchange, or use of electronic health information” – as a significant hurdle to health IT development. Eramo includes a collaborated list of recommendations, published in “Vital Directions for Health and Health Care: Priorities from a National Academy of Medicine Initiative,” to demonstrate the leading theories for preventing both intentional and unintentional data hoarding. Key ideas include crafting federal regulation information-sharing standards; de-incentivizing redundant, ineffective EHR systems; and providing clinical guidelines for appropriate conduct.
Read more about expert-recommended interoperability standards here: Vital Directions for Health and Health Care: Priorities from a National Academy of Medicine Initiative
Adjusting and maintaining EHR systems can become daunting tasks for smaller healthcare practices and independent physicians, especially as the industry shifts focus towards data-sharing practices and away from basic adoption. The New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC) teams up with medical professionals statewide to navigate the federal incentives and regulations surrounding their health IT options. Furthermore, IT Practice Consulting (ITPC) assists with clients’ personalized optimization needs, with everything from HIPAA compliance preparations to ambulatory care evaluations.
Contact ITPC today and speak to a representative about optimizing your health IT systems!