Posted February 1, 2016 by admin in Latest News

Health IT Interoperability Among CHIME Chronic Care Concerns

Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital Implements Plexus Technology Group's Anesthesia
Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital Implements Plexus Technology Group's Anesthesia

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), in a letter sent last week to leadership of the Senate Finance Committee’s Chronic Care Working Group, emphasized four areas of focus in determining policies to improve healthcare for chronically ill patients. Facilitating health IT interoperability across the care continuum was among CHIME’s core recommendations.

The letter also discussed removing existing policy barriers to delivery of chronic care, strengthening telehealth reimbursement policies under Medicare, and fostering quality measurement policies that enable delivery system reform. The correspondence — addressed to Finance Committee Chair Sen. Orrin Hatch and Ranking Member Sen. Ron Wyden, as well as Chronic Care Working Group co-chairs Sen. Johnny Isakson and Sen. Mark Warner — responds to a policy options document released by the working group in December 2015.

The working group had stated, after gathering information from two public hearings and 80 stakeholder meetings and more than 500 public comments, that it would work in bipartisan fashion to improve the way care is delivered to Medicare beneficiaries with chronic diseases.

Before elaborating on interoperability, CHIME stressed “the importance of reducing administrative duplication and policies that may hinder success or interfere with other CMS initiatives.” CHIME, which represents more than 1,700 healthcare chief information officers and other senior IT executives, said efforts to expand digital coaching in chronic care would be valuable, but duplicative of patient education mandates already in place in the EHR meaningful use program.

The association said the meaningful use program should be reshaped to ensure that providers have EHR systems capable of exchanging patient data. Doing so would encourage patients to be active members of their care team.

The group also called for removal of policy barriers in the areas of patient identification, cross-state licensure and telehealth reimbursement.

In its interoperability comments, CHIME emphasized the need for “data fluidity” among the numerous providers treating chronically ill patients. “CHIME reminds the committee that given the current absence of a national solution for linking patients to their healthcare data across disparate healthcare providers, it will be impossible to accomplish the ideal of a longitudinal healthcare record,” the letter states.

In a related point, CHIME said implementation of strict privacy and security standards should be incorporated into policy recommendations that would increase interoperability.

“CHIME calls on the committee to pursue policies with the intent to increase the secure exchange of health data, facilitating the compilation of a longitudinal healthcare record, to enable informed decision making for providers and patients alike,” the letter summarizes.

Aside from its interoperability comments, CHIME urged the Senate committee to consider further strengthening of telehealth policies under Medicare, while also fostering quality measurement policies that enable delivery system reform.

On the latter point, CHIME noted, “[W]e would urge the committee to refrain from suggesting the creation of new measures until there has been proper maturity of provider and government measurement capabilities. The measures the committee has suggested seem to focus on what the government needs to monitor the industry rather than what providers need to inform their treatment of patients.”

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