WEDI Says ONC Roadmap Should ‘Better Reflect’ Realities of Health IT

April 8, 2015 in News

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT needs to address barriers to interoperable data exchange, according to a recent survey by the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange, FierceHealthIT reports.

Background

WEDI conducted the survey in response to ONC’s interoperability roadmap (Dvorak, FierceHealthIT, 4/7). 

The draft roadmap, titled “Connecting Health and Care for the Nation: A Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap Draft Version 1.0,” aims to achieve basic electronic health data interoperability by 2017.

Specifically, it outlines short- and long-term goals for the next 10 years, with 2017 set as the deadline by which “a majority of individuals and providers across the care continuum” should be able “to send, receive, find and use a common set of electronic clinical information” (iHealthBeat, 4/6).

Details of Survey

WEDI conducted the survey last month and drew responses from 372 health care organizations, including:

  • Health information exchange groups;
  • Payers;
  • Providers; and
  • Vendors.

The respondents said:

  • Blending structured and unstructured data are challenging;
  • Electronic health records often require manual intervention to be matched successfully;
  • Health data encryption lags;
  • Most providers use Direct for exchanging health information internally; and
  • Providers often are unable to exchange health data electronically with non-affiliated groups (FierceHealthIT, 4/7).

Further, less than half of respondents said electronic information exchange has improved performance measures (WEDI letter, 4/3).

Recommendations

WEDI in a letter said that it strongly supports ONC’s efforts to advance interoperability but that the roadmap should “better reflect the realities, gaps, challenges and opportunities across the current landscape.”

The group added that:

  • Exchange of information needs to be “more harmonized” so that there is consistency among data being transmitted;
  • ONC needs to better prioritize actions that can be achieved with a “reasonable effort”; and
  • ONC should shift from government-based oversight to a role based more on coordination and guidance with private industry partners.

In addition, WEDI noted the need for:

  • A standardized process for patient ID matching;
  • Market forces and value-based care models that will drive interoperability;
  • More evaluation about balancing burden and value of choice in patient access to data; and
  • Partnerships to improve health IT education and literacy within the industry.

Groups Comment on Roadmap

In related news, several other health care groups have commented on the roadmap in recent weeks, according to FierceHealthIT.

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives and the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems sent a letter to ONC saying it is “paramount” to form an interoperable Learning Health System (FierceHealthIT, 4/7).

In addition, the Federal Trade Commission has submitted comments on the roadmap to ONC. Among other recommendations, FTC’s comments advise ONC to consider how providers’ and vendors’ economic interests align with the benefits of interoperability (FTC release, 4/8).

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