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CHIME Cites Lack of True Interoperability as Source of Health Costs

CHIME partly attributes rising healthcare costs to the industry’s failure to achieve true interoperability and accurate patient EHR matching.

CHIME recommended improving interoperability to reduce healthcare spending.

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- In a response to a federal request for information (RFI) about how to address rising healthcare costs, CHIME recommended the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions focus on advancing interoperability and improving patient EHR matching.

In addition to advancing interoperability, CHIME also urged the committee reduce administrative burden associated with federal mandates, rethink federal telehealth policies, and leverage technology for price transparency.

“The inability to ubiquitously share data across the care continuum is undoubtedly resulting in increased costs and hinders outcomes,” stated CHIME.

Improving health data exchange will help to reduce waste and improve care quality, CHIME wrote.

“CHIME calls on the committee to continue to pursue policies aligned with those in the 21st Century Cures Act with the intent to increase the exchange of health data,” the organization wrote. “This will facilitate the compilation of a longitudinal healthcare record and enable informed decision making for providers and patients alike.”

Ensuring a high level of patient EHR matching accuracy is imperative to facilitating cost-effective, streamlined health data exchange for coordinated care.

“A national approach to patient identification is prerequisite for health information exchange and the lack of a national standard for patient identification only serves to aggravate our industry’s technical challenges,” stated CHIME.

“While a national approach to patient matching would be an important step toward true interoperability, without a standard patient identifier, the creation of a complete and accurate longitudinal care record is simply not feasible,” the organization continued.

Harmonizing privacy and consent laws will also help to streamline health data exchange between providers for a more efficient health system.

“CHIME calls on Congress to lead an open dialogue to help states align privacy and consent policies that enable cross-border exchange of health information in a secure manner, including SUD data,” stated CHIME. “This should include re-examining certain provisions of HIPAA. While the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has begun a review, Congressional action will be needed.”

Eliminating discrepancies in EHR adoption across the care continuum will further improve healthcare interoperability.

“Today long-term care facilities and behavioral health providers often do not have the resources to implement and use EHR technology,” stated CHIME.

“For this reason, CHIME supported the provision included in the SUPPORT Act that promotes testing of incentive payments for behavioral health providers for adoption and use of certified electronic health record technology. This model should be considered for the long-term post-acute care community as well.”

A bill supporting federal incentive payments for behavioral health EHR adoption was passed by the House of Representatives in June 2018.

“To have true interoperability, records should be complete and include all care encounters, not just those in clinician offices or hospitals,” maintained CHIME.

In its letter, CHIME also pointed out that frequent changes in federal regulations — particularly the Promoting Interoperability (PI) program — has increased costs on healthcare organizations.

“The PI program requirements shift frequently, leaving both vendors and health systems in a constant state of development and implementation,” CHIME wrote.

The burden of quality measurement also requires hours of work and expertise from clinicians and administrators.

“Harmonizing measures across CMS programs would be invaluable and would free up resources within health systems and technology providers for innovation,” the organization stated.

Overall, CHIME commended the committee for its efforts to lower healthcare costs and improve care delivery.

“We hope our comments are useful and look forward to a continued dialogue with the committee regarding legislative solutions for improving healthcare for patients through the use of health information technology,” CHIME concluded.

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