- The American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) has made 17 policy recommendations for promoting the development and adoption of health IT infrastructure capable of supporting the transition to value-based care in a new paper.
The recommendations target policy changes that will improve patient data access, health data exchange and interoperability, and research and health IT innovation for optimized patient care.
AMIA and the authors of the paper presented their recommendations in a briefing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.
“These recommendations are meant to help decision-makers understand that the idealized vision for our digitized healthcare system is within grasp,” said Associate Professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Information and lead author Julia Adler-Milstein, PhD. “Coordination – above all else – is how we take the health IT tools of today and achieve the promise of better patient care of tomorrow.”
Through 17 policy recommendations, AMIA seeks to aid patients, providers, and researchers and innovators in transitioning to a fully-functioning value-based care system supporting quality care delivery.
The recommendations, developed partially through research and findings of AMIA’s EHR 2020 Task Force Report, address the specific challenges of an industry currently undergoing a transition from volume- to value-based care that requires unique technological developments and regulatory changes.
Divided into three parts according to patient, provider, and researcher/innovator perspectives, the 17 policy recommendations include improving patient access to data, patient participation in research, application programming interfaces (APIs) for interoperability, quality measure simplification, and app-vetting process development.
“We have made great progress in adopting EHRs in the last six years, but now our charge is even more difficult,” said AMIA President and CEO Douglas B. Fridsma, MD, at the briefing. “Now we must develop and implement strategies that allow all stakeholders – patients, clinicians, researchers, developers and policymakers – to truly benefit from a connected, innovative health ecosystem. Policy recommendations developed in this paper have given decision-makers a host of options necessary to accomplish this.”
In addition to these recommendations, AMIA also published a set of Policy Action Items outlining “immediate”, “near-term,” and “on the horizon” actions lawmakers can consider to improve patient data access, interoperability, and research and innovation to improve patient care and health outcomes.
Among the listed potential immediate actions policymakers can consider are the following items:
- Clarifying that HIPAA “right to access” rules includes all data in a patient’s electronic medical record.
- Developing certification requirements with provider attestation ensuring patient data is fully interoperable.
- Encourage 2015 Certified Health IT adoption to promote standardized APIs.
- Pursue cost-effective alternative payment models through Medicare and Medicaid.
The association also highlighted other forward-thinking policy recommendations likely to become increasingly important as health IT innovation and active patient participation in healthcare become more common.
Near-term goals policymakers and stakeholders should consider according to AMIA include improved patient identification to ensure all patient data and research results are promptly matched to the proper patient, mitigating confusion and streamlining administrative processes. Additionally, the healthcare organization encourages policymakers and stakeholders to encourage partnerships among specialty organizations, data analytics experts, standards developers, and health IT innovators resulting in more efficient APIs.
On the horizon, goals outlined by AMIA include investigating how non-covered entities can best handle the influx of patient data brought on by wearables, mobile apps, and other patient-facing technologies increasing the flow of patient generated health data.
While health IT innovations and modified federal regulations are ultimately meant to benefit the healthcare industry, streamlining the shift from a volume- to value-based care system is imperative to ensuring quality care remains a priority over meeting regulatory objectives.
With these policy recommendations, AMIA intends to keep the focus on patient-centered care.