- Collaboration and innovation are vital to progress in upgrading the US health IT infrastructure, said ONC in its annual report to Congress.
The report backed full support for implementing the health IT provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act.
In addition, the report recommended that health IT stakeholders take the following actions to accelerate improvement in the US health IT infrastructure:
- Improve interoperability and upgrade technical capabilities of the health IT infrastructure, so patients can securely access, aggregate, and move their health information using their personal devices and health care providers can easily send, receive, and analyze patient data
- Increase transparency in data sharing practices and strengthen technical capabilities so payers can access population-level clinical data to promote economic transparency and operational efficiency to lower care and administrative costs
- Reduce documentation burden, time inefficiencies, and difficulties for healthcare providers, so they can focus on their patients rather than their computers
ONC said it had updated its health IT certification program to implement the 2015 Edition Health IT Certification Criteria and associated testing processes, including capabilities aimed at supporting interoperability of health information.
The updated requirements for health IT product certification include:
- Consolidated clinical document architecture requirement that supports the improved display of data based on clinical relevance and ensures that data conforms to applicable standards
- API criterion that gives healthcare providers a greater ability to work with application developers to pull data from their health IT to support data analysis purposes
- Updated data set for interoperability
- Revised requirement that certified health IT be able to export data from one patient, a set of patients, or a subset of patients.
In March last year, the Trump administration launched MyHealthEData, which is intended to help patients access and share their health data securely. The initiative is designed to allow patients to get electronic access to and control over their health records from any device or application.
“The MyHealthEDatainitiative will work to make clear that patients deserve to not only electronically receive a copy of their entire health record, but also to be able to share their data with whomever they want. Patients can use their information to actively seek out healthcare providers and services that meet their unique healthcare needs, have a better understanding of their overall health, prevent disease, and make more informed decisions about their care,” the report noted.
In the same month last year, CMS announced Blue Button 2.0, which is a HL7 Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR)-based API that contains data on 53 million Medicare beneficiaries.
“Blue Button 2.0 is a health IT developer-friendly, standards-based API enabling beneficiaries to connect their claims data to the applications, services and research programs they choose,” the report noted.
In January last year, ONC released the draft of the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement.
The Draft Trusted Exchange Framework outlines a common set of principles for trusted health data exchange and minimum terms and conditions for trusted exchange. This is intended to bridge the gap between providers’ and patients’ information systems and enable interoperability across different health information networks.
The Common Agreement will be a legally binding contract that health information networks will voluntarily sign onto and agree to abide by.
“To implement key provisions of the Cures Act aimed at improving usability of health IT, reducing regulatory and administrative burden, and preventing information blocking, HHS engaged the clinical community and health IT industry stakeholders to better understand the root causes of burden associated with the usability and use of health IT,” the report related.
“As HHS implements the provisions in the Cures Act, we look forward to continued engagement between government and industry on health IT matters and on the role health IT can play to increase competition in healthcare markets,” it concluded.