- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is looking for a Chief Health Informatics Officer (CHIO), a position which will require a focus on improving healthcare interoperability and developing health IT requirements, according to a USAJOBS.gov job posting.
The CHIO will also need to “work with internal and external stakeholders to determine how CMS will apply health informatics methods and standards to IT and business solutions,” the posting reads.
The ideal candidate must also be a subject matter expert in health IT information management and technology innovation policy, and “act as a liaison between CMS and private industry stakeholders to lead innovation and help inform CMS health IT and information management policy and operations.”
CMS has been working on improving healthcare interoperability, so it makes sense that the agency is attempting to fill out leadership positions to further that goal.
Last week CMS launched a Data Element Library (DEL) to support health data and health IT standardization to improve interoperability. The free and centralized database lets the public view specific types of data CMS requires post-acute care (PAC) facilities to collect during patient health assessments.
Health IT standards that support health data collection will also be supported, CMS explained.
“Because the DEL now puts these standards and data elements all in one place in a ‘one-stop shop,’ it will be much easier for health IT vendors to incorporate them into electronic health records (EHRs) that are used by post-acute care providers,” the agency said. “Integrating these data elements into EHRs will ultimately allow health information to flow more easily from one provider to another.”
When healthcare providers have better communication between one another, provider burden can be reduced and patient care coordination can improve, CMS added.
“The DEL supports the use and sharing of data, and aligns with MyHealthEData, a governmentwide effort strengthening the interoperability of health information,” stated CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “It also closely aligns with CMS’ Patients Over Paperwork initiative focused on reducing administrative burden and costs while improving care coordination, outcomes and patients’ ability to make decisions about their own care.”
The MyHealthEData initiative also suggests that the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record Incentive Programs be overhauled. This would “increase flexibility and reduce burden for providers, promote information sharing between providers and patients, and incentivize providers to make it easier for patients to obtain their medical records electronically.”
However, not all healthcare stakeholders agree with how interoperability should be promoted.
The American Medical Group Association (AMGA) suggested in a letter to CMS that the agency revise Conditions of Participation (CoPs) for hospitals so providers can quickly communicate patient data.
Any changes made to CoPs should align with the Quality Payment Program (QPP) and the developing Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA), AMGA added.
“Improving interoperability will give medical groups the ability to transform the quality of care delivered to patients,” AMGA President and CEO Jerry Penso, MD said. “By allowing care providers more real-time access to electronic patient information, CMS can help us achieve a far more interoperable system that will foster care coordination and improve patient engagement.”
The American Hospital Association (AHA) advised CMS against creating CoP requirements that promote interoperability.
“The AHA recommends that CMS not implement a CoP/CfC to increase interoperability across the continuum of care because post-acute care providers were not provided the resources or incentives to adopt health IT and creating this requirement would put another unfunded mandate on these organizations,” AHA said.
Instead, CMS can promote interoperability by establishing a framework that ensure health information exchange is “universally and consistently implemented and demonstrable.” The agency should also wait until TEFCA is finalized before it develops any further interoperability initiatives or requirements.