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CHIME Advises HHS Improve Interoperability, Standardization

Recommendations submitted to the Department of Health & Human Services last month prioritize industry-wide standardization to improve health data exchange and interoperability.

CHIME Recommendations

Source: Thinkstock

- The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) recently submitted a list of recommendations to Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Thomas Price, MD, on ways to improve patient care delivery in several areas, including interoperability.

In an effort to maintain momentum in improving interoperability, reducing stringent regulations on providers, and streamlining the transition to value-based care, CHIME submitted seven suggestions regarding steps HHS should consider when drafting future legislation.

“CHIME members have moved beyond adopting information technology and to pursuing strategies that promote population health, patient engagement and value-based payment,” members wrote. “However, significant barriers remain to harnessing the full power of these systems. Below are a set of priority areas and recommendations which, we believe, could propel us toward greater innovation in care delivery.”

One of the barriers to greater innovation is the absence of a nationwide patient identification system.

“As our healthcare system moves toward nationwide health information exchange, we still lack the ability to identify patients with 100 percent accuracy 100 percent of the time,” stated the organization in its report.

The need to improve patient identification through a nationally uniform numerical system is increasingly pressing, CHIME noted. This is especially true as there is an increased focus on optimizing health data exchange and ensuring patient records from any provider exist on an online platform accessible to any authorized user.

“Our priority recommendation is for HHS to support private sector-led efforts to locate a solution to patient identification and provide technical support,” members added.

In regards to minimizing regulatory burden on providers in the transition to a value-based payment system, CHIME recommended HHS delay Stage 3 Meaningful Use requirements and its use of Version 2015 CEHRT indefinitely. This sentiment was echoed along with several other associations in another recent statement advocating for less stringent meaningful use reporting requirements.

CHIME also suggested 2018 be treated as a transition year for providers switching over to MIPS similar to 2017, requesting all Stage 3-like measures under the Advanced Care Information performance category of MIPS be disregarded.

“In order for payment and delivery reform to succeed, we need a high-performing, interoperable and secure technical infrastructure,” CHIME members wrote. “Physicians and clinicians need ample time and interoperable EHRs in order to succeed.”

As previously mentioned, CHIME members said there must be significant adjustments in interoperability policy.

While interoperability is expected to improve as the year progresses, CHIME members maintain MIPS meaningful use Stage 3-like measures call for a level of interoperability exceeding what current EHR systems are capable of delivering.

CHIME asserts a single set of standards encouraging streamlined, compatible systems across providers will pave the way for the interoperability necessary to meet impending MIPS requirements.

“Our priority recommendation is for HHS to prioritize the adoption of a single set of standards to facilitate interoperability,” members stated.

CHIME also voiced concern over muddled quality reporting requirements causing confusion among providers and complicating workflows.

“The complex web of quality reporting requirements not only create confusion among providers, but result in millions of dollars being wasted on creating cumbersome workflows, stealing time from direct patient care,” members wrote.

Finally, CHIME said in its recent letter that improving healthcare cybersecurity and expanding telemedicine coverage should also be top priorities for HHS.

At a subsequent presentation at HIMSS17, MIPS Policy Developer Leader Molly MacHarris attempted to clear up this confusion by outlining what is expected of providers when fulfilling each performance category and how total scores are measured.

CHIME members in February also recommended HHS enforce a 90-day reporting period for 2017 onward and postpone reporting requirements of electronic clinical quality measures until providers implement the necessary infrastructure to comfortably meet these requirements. 

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