Promoting Interoperability of Health Information for Better Care
I am not a practitioner, but I hold experience as a writer and I am now in touch with the Health IT systems at P3Care.com. We work closely with the doctors and assist them with IT innovation in the medical industry. Also, getting them better reimbursements via an effective Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) process is one of our core strengths. The in-house medical process is distracting and costly which is where a medical billing services company like P3 Healthcare Solutions comes in and works hard to create error-free claims, follows-up on pending claims, and reduces accounts receivables.
The EHRs are supposed to make lives more comfortable. Doctors thought that EHRs would assist them in delivering quality care and patients thought of EHRs as a door to better care. However, the practical results of certified EHR technology implementation are a bit different and both the stakeholders are facing difficulties. It seems like the only remedy to this problem lies in the interoperability of health information.
The topic below is relevant to the website because if we don’t make the information interoperable, we lack an efficient recovery system. To write about the welfare of doctors directly affects the health of the patients, whether it is mental or physical health. It gets easier if the EHRs exhibit simplicity, provider-friendliness and don’t have any hindrances in the cash or workflow. Patients, on the other hand, need to stay in touch with their medical practitioner and anything that comes in their way makes the process challenging.
Promoting Interoperability of Health Information for Better Care
For those not familiar with the concept, CMS gave a new name to the EHR incentive programs to increase interoperability and give patients more control over their health, Promoting Interoperability (PI). It is an ideal scenario for improving care quality and controlling the expenses at the same time. It is everyone’s right to receive the best care, and that will only happen after we make the EHRs interoperable and make sure every patient has access to their health data. It is part of the meaningful use of EHRs which aims to make a difference in favor of all the stakeholders. That includes hospitals, practices, patients, health IT developers, payers, medical billing companies, qualified registries and any organization that deals with the patients.
If we want to get well as patients, it is necessary to participate in the healthcare transformation, one way or the other. The value-based care shows us the path on which we will not only collect healthier outcomes, but the cost factor is bound to drop significantly.
How Do We Achieve Interoperability?
A million dollar question that needs an appropriate answer – The 21st Century Cures Act of 2016 is the answer to this question because it addresses the EHR challenges. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology are on a path to facilitate health information exchange (HIE) and improve interoperability. To build a health system that delivers value, HHS Secretary, Alex Azar will emphasize the importance and use of health information technology (HIT).
For the next few years, ONC will continue to work with all the organizations and the federal authorities to execute the provisions of the Cures Act.
ONC’s Plan of Action
- ONC will be laying down the rules so that patients, providers and the payers have better access to health information through the use of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).
- Information blocking is a big hurdle in the interoperability. Meaningful use of EHRs is only possible when the ONC rules identify and put an end to the info blocking tendencies. OIG will be fully enforcing this provision.
- Trusted Exchange Network and Common Agreement are two crucial steps to expedite data sharing across different health networks.
- One of the provisions of the Cures Act stresses upon reducing the administrative and clinical reporting requirements for the clinicians. It will be a collaborative effort of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and HHS.
APIs Are True Problem Solvers
A better healthcare environment and quality care delivery to the patients when they need it the most is the right of every individual. To achieve that, ONC is going to work on APIs and make them universal. The idea is to empower the patients, giving them control over their health. When their smartphones display their health data, they may perform functions like viewing their lab reports, scheduling appointments and searching for the best provider. Telehealth aims at a similar purpose – bringing care closer to the patients. They can get healthcare services and convey information from one network to another realizing the process of interoperability. The primary objective of the meaningful use of electronic health records (EHRs) requires us to deliver inter-network care.
What Are APIs Exactly?
They facilitate software to software information exchange. APIs are programs which let one software use the functions of another software. So, healthcare providers with different EHR vendors and medical billing companies can coordinate effectively through APIs and help the patients.
Why Do We Focus on Health IT Systems?
It is only through the use of advanced systems; we can accomplish the task of promoting interoperating (PI).
Part of the HIT transformation depends on the open source APIs similar to those which are foundational in the app development industry. Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) is turning it around for the US healthcare industry as it represents a developer-friendly version.
There are many health information exchange organizations across the country. However, the disparity among the agreements restricts information from going across the board. Both the regional and national centers are putting in their effort to maximize data transfer across networks, but due to agreement limitations, they are unable to support patients, providers, and the software systems.
Cures Act has a solution to this problem in the form of Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement. ONC is the implementing authority, and it will be monitoring and channelizing health information networks through these contracts.
Trusted Exchange Network is going to create the terms and conditions in a manner that the health information networks show complete trust in each other. All the rules and regulations will be part of it so that networks can’t avoid each other and expedite HIE to maximum effect. Irrespective of the EHR system, practice management system, the information network, information will be moving from provider to provider across electronic systems serving the purpose of interoperability. It will serve the patients even if they are sitting in the other corner of the country.
Consequently, it is not far when patients seeing a wide range of providers will be able to see a new provider as a member of the Common Agreement. Doctors and medical professionals who sign on the Common Agreement will have access to the EHRs even if the patients come from far ends of the country.
Devising a Strategy to Prevent Information Blocking
Firstly, we must understand information blocking. Blocking the required health information by certain parties and hindering the exchange of health data across networks is information blocking. The matter was raised in front of Congress, and it appears that there are heavy economic incentives for blocking health information. Those actors and companies participating in such practices are in for financial gains. However, the Cures Act is here to fix it. Anyone caught in the act of blocking information that may prove to be helpful in treating a patient will face hefty fines and penalties. The list includes providers, health IT developers, exchanges or networks.
Better and faster access to health information by patients and the payers will increase transparency of the US healthcare system. We need America to be fit and healthy by staying explicit.
HHS is speeding up the process of promoting interoperability by making some changes in the EHR reporting criteria. Meaningful use in 2018 is under observation, and the providers will benefit from it in the form of minimized reporting burden. HHS also pledges to promote interoperability by collaborating with CMS and the federal agencies in the future.
The topic is highly relevant and vital to every American citizen. We are all in this together for our current and upcoming generations.