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How is Interoperability Supporting Patient-Centered Care?

As the healthcare industry shifts to value-based models, it's important that other aspects, like interoperability and health information exchange, foster patient-centered care.

By Sara Heath

- As the industry shifts to value-based payment models, concepts like patient-centered care are shaping all aspects of healthcare, including health IT interoperability and health information exchange (HIE).


Through various initiatives aimed at boosting patient access to health data, several interoperability organizations and HIEs are making the effort to make health IT more patient facing, helping to boost patient engagement.

Below, HealthITInteroperability.com discusses some of the recent developments in the healthcare industry that helps make health data interoperability more patient-centric:

SHIEC launches patient-centered data home

Earlier this month, three members of the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative came together for the patient-centered data home project to better facilitate interstate HIE.

READ MORE: Physicians to Launch Connecticut Health Information Exchange

READ MORE: WPI Receives $5 million for Health IT Innovation Initiative

READ MORE: Ensuring Patient Concerns Don’t Limit Health Data Exchange

PCDH works by sending out care alerts to various members of the program whenever a patient has been admitted to a hospital. These alerts notify members that a patient has sought care outside of their “home” HIE, prompting member HIEs to send the patient’s data to the current care site.

The HIEs currently involved in the PCDH are Arizona Health-e Connection (AzHeC), Quality Health Network (QHN), and Utah-based UHIN.

This program puts the patient first, making it possible for her to get quality healthcare regardless of where she seeks it. Because the involved HIEs are poised to shared health data at the sound of an alert, patients are able to get access to quality care whenever and wherever necessary.

“The concept is focused on providers having access to real-time data wherever a patient may present for care by providing information across state lines and disparate health care systems,” said Dick Thompson, Executive Director and CEO for QHN.

“HIEs share common borders and common patients, and we are able to share information on these patients when they are away from their home zip code, bridging gaps in information and enabling more comprehensive patient records.”

Health pros discuss HIE as an enabler for patient engagement

Health information should be available to all patients, regardless of where they are located or how their providers store it, said interoperability experts at a panel this past April.

At the 13th Annual World Healthcare Conference, a panel of healthcare professionals from the National Association for Trust Exchange (NATE), DirectTrust, and the Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission (EHNAC) discussed the importance of patient-facing interoperability.

The experts discussed patients’ roles in health information exchange, stating that they are the only ones who can fully facilitate effective HIE.

“Ultimately, the consumer is the only person who is a part of every encounter that they have,” NATE CEO Aaron Seib said. “And if they are going to have 100% information awareness to share with their next provider and to participate and actually partner with all their caregivers, not just the ones that are in the HIEs, not just the ones that are using a particular EMR, but every provider that they’re going to get care from, we have to enable them to get data in the app of their choice.”

Considering the pace at which the healthcare industry is moving toward patient-centered care solutions, panelist David Kibbe, MD, MBA, CEO of DirectTrust thinks patient-centered interoperability solutions may be fast approaching.

“I do think there is great potential, and things might happen very fast,” he explained. “This idea of a shared medical record, that is in the control of the individual, that literally drives patients in a different way through the medical system, could emerge almost overnight.”

Industry pros rally for patient-centered HIE under MACRA

The call for patient-centered interoperability also rings throughout the health policy and legislation arena. Following the draft implementation for the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, several industry leaders expressed the need for patient-centered HIE to enable MACRA success.

In a letter to Karen DeSalvo, the National Coordinator for Health IT, industry groups like The Consumer Partnership for eHealth (CPeH) have emphasized the need for MACRA’s interoperability measures to consider the patient.

“Just looking at interoperability among certified electronic health record (EHR) systems and meaningful EHR users does not capture the spectrum of core populations and uses under MACRA,” the CPeH wrote. “Patient and family caregivers, too, are key exchange partners when receiving, using and contributing new information that helps provide a complete picture of their health.”

Such sentiment echoes the above-mentioned industry efforts toward patient-centered interoperability. Because patients and caregivers are the only individuals right at the center of all care encounters, it is critical that they have access to health data in order to adequately coordinate care and manage treatments.

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