Senate Committee Requests ONC Report on EHR Interoperability

July 28, 2014 in News

Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee in a draft bill requested that the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s Health IT Policy Committee submit a report on the barriers to electronic health record interoperability, Health Data Management reports.

Background

The draft bill follows the release of a report compiled by a task force assembled by the MITRE Corporation that found meaningful use stages 1 and 2 fall short of implementing the EHR interoperability necessary to facilitate information exchange and develop a robust health data infrastructure (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 7/28).

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

According to the task force, “most patients still cannot gain electronic access to their health information,” and “rational access to EHRs for clinical care and biomedical research does not exist outside the boundaries of individual organizations” (iHealthBeat, 4/17).

Draft Bill Details

In the draft bill, the senators call on the Policy Committee to explore the so-called “information blocking” problem by providing:

  • An estimate of how many vendors or eligible hospitals and professionals block information; and
  • A “comprehensive strategy” detailing how the information blocking issue can be remedied (Health Data Management, 7/28).

The Senate committee also wrote that ONC should use its authority to “certify only those products that clearly meet current meaningful use program standards and that do not block health information exchange” (Diana, InformationWeek, 7/26).

They noted that ONC should “take steps to decertify” systems that:

  • Block the sharing of data because those practices hinder congressional intent;
  • Devalue taxpayer investments in certified EHR technology; and
  • Make certified EHR technology less valuable and more difficult for eligible hospitals and professionals to use (Health Data Management, 7/28).
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