Health Groups Emphasize Interoperability To Enhance Patient Care


Several health care organizations have sent letters to Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) highlighting the importance of health care data transparency and interoperability, EHR Intelligence reports (Bresnick, EHR Intelligence, 8/19).


The letters came in response to a June request from Wyden and Grassley seeking ideas “to enhance the availability and utility of health care data” while protecting patient privacy from 200 health care industry individuals and groups. Aug. 12 was the deadline for responses to the senators’ query (iHealthBeat, 8/13).

American Medical Group Association Letter Details

The American Medical Group Association in its letter criticized the current state of health care data, noting that it is fragmented in disparate systems (EHR Intelligence, 8/19).

AMGA wrote, “It is completely inadequate in a value-based system where providers accept risk for improving care and reducing costs and patients are increasingly responsible for paying a greater share of their care” (AMGA letter, 8/12).

The group urged lawmakers to invest more in clinical analytics that can unite data sources and generate meaningful data for providers and patients.

Bipartisan Policy Center Letter Details

In a letter, the Bipartisan Policy Center wrote, “Streamlined, meaningful quality metrics are critical to organized systems of care, and can facilitate public reporting of information that consumers can use to make decisions about their care and that providers can use to understand how their performance relates to their peers” (EHR Intelligence, 8/19). The letter added that lawmakers should work to make health care-related data more accessible, including:

  • Administrative or claims data from the public and private sectors;
  • Clinical data from primary care and specialty providers, hospitals, laboratories and pharmacies;
  • Data collected by medical devices; and
  • Patient-generated data (Bipartisan Policy Center letter, 8/12).

National Committee for Quality Assurances Letter Details

Meanwhile, the National Committee for Quality Assurance in its letter highlighted confusion surrounding HIPAA’s privacy rules, noting that they “are often misinterpreted as precluding” the sharing of medical treatment data. The group wrote, “While many consumers are concerned about misuse of personal health information, most do want their data shared as long as they know with whom and why, and to meet care needs.” The group concluded, “Further study on the logistics, limitations, and implications for recording and adhering to patient-stated preferences for data sharing is warranted” (EHR Intelligence, 8/19).

Pacific Business Group on Health Letter Details

In a separate letter, San Francisco-based Pacific Business Group on Health recommended several moves to improve interoperability, including:

  • Collaborating with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT to establish a date for EHR interoperability; and
  • Using federal reimbursement incentives to reward providers who share health data effectively.

PBGH also wrote that patient-reported outcomes are a key of patient-centered health care systems but often are missing from such systems. Specifically, the organization argued that patient-reported outcomes could be used for:

  • Provider accountability; and
  • Consumer decisions.

West Health Institute Letter Details

La Jolla-based West Health Institute in its letter noted the need for “seamless, semantic interoperability” between electronic health record systems to ensure access to health data for health care providers, insurers, patients and patients’ families.

West Health argued that such interoperability would increase care quality and enable patients and stakeholders to make informed health care decisions.

West Health CEO Nicholas Valeriani said that the lack of interoperability within health IT systems “works against the ability of all providers engaged in the care of an individual patient to readily share observations and insights, and thereby frustrates the coordination of care that is essential to having optimal, patient-centered health care” (Dvorak, FierceHealthIT, 8/15).

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