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CIOs Prioritize Interoperability During Early-Phase EHR Adoption

Thirty-one CHIME executives named health IT interoperability as a top priority during early-phase EHR adoption in a recent expert roundtable.

A group of CIOs named cybersecurity and interoperability as top priorities during early-phase EHR adoption.

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- Health IT interoperability and cybersecurity rank as top priorities during early-phase EHR adoption among CIOs, according to the results of a recent focus group discussion of 31 healthcare executives.

LexisNexis hosted a roundtable discussion of members of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) to identify top priorities throughout the EHR implementation process in 2019.

Roundtable participants included vice presidents and chief information officers from hospitals, nursing homes, and health plans.

According to surveyed executives, achieving the ability to consume and meaningfully use patient health data is a central focus of early-phase EHR adoption processes. CIOs consider external and internal interoperability during implementation and seek to deliver EHR data directly into providers’ clinical workflows

Executives also emphasized the importance of up-front investments in cybersecurity to protect patient information. Study participants use multiple layers of security including one-time passwords, biometrics, and knowledge-based authentication to improve the security of health IT infrastructure.

Healthcare organizations that already have established health data exchange infrastructure in place ranked data governance as a top priority.

“While most participants primarily handle data warehousing and are not yet responsible for data quality, they acknowledge that a silo approach to data governance does not work,” wrote LexisNexis officials in a press release. “They focus on an enterprise-wide effort that includes significant input from health information management and quality assurance.”

Healthcare CIOs and vice presidents also said maintaining current, complete, and accurate provider directories is high-priority to streamline referrals and care coordination. Updating provider directories is especially important after mergers and acquisitions.

During the mature phases of EHR deployment, healthcare CIOs prioritize health data analytics and patient engagement.

“Organizations need meaningful insights to risk-stratify patients, analyze payer mix, and more. In an effort to provide the highest quality care at the lowest cost, participants look to set accurate risk adjustment targets, which requires analysis of data for encounters spanning the entire care continuum,” LexisNexis representatives stated.

“They discover that even at this mature phase of EHR deployment, data integrity is still a challenge in getting accurate insights,” they continued.

Healthcare CIOs said strategic initiatives focused on patient engagement are necessary to personalize the patient experience and enhance communication between patients and providers.

“The focus group shows that organizations are driven by the desire to do what's right for the patient, not merely complying with a regulation,” said Josh Schoeller, SVP and general manager of Healthcare LexisNexis Risk Solutions.

“This is evident in how they approach every challenge inherent in various levels of EHR integration: from ensuring accuracy of patient data, protecting it, and sharing it in a meaningful way to collaborating across departments to deliver personalized, high-quality care, to innovating to engage patients. Data governance is a complex, evolving journey, not a destination,” Schoeller continued.

ONC and CMS are taking steps to promote improvements in interoperability through newly-proposed policies.

Last month, the federal agencies released proposed rules tackling interoperability and information blocking.

In its proposed rule, ONC listed proposed exceptions to information blocking that will assist in defining the practice.

In its own proposed rule, CMS recommended extending accountability for information blocking to providers participating in Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP.

“We believe it would benefit patients and caregivers to know if individual clinicians, hospitals, and critical access hospitals (CAHs) have submitted a ‘no’ response to any of the three attestation statements regarding the prevention of information blocking in the Promoting Interoperability Programs,” wrote CMS officials as part of the proposed rule.



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