- Practice Fusion, a company that developed a cloud-based EHR system, has signed the interoperability pledge sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), according to a press release on its website.
The EHR interoperability pledge represents a commitment to facilitate communication of health information between providers, patients, and other healthcare stakeholders.
“Interoperability is core to our mission: Connecting doctors, patients and data to drive better health and save lives,” said Tom Langan, CEO of Practice Fusion. “Since 2005, we’ve been focused on expanding our ability to aggregate clinical data and share it, helping to make healthcare better for everyone.”
The EHR vendor contents that the healthcare industry can improve interoperability by using more application program interface (API) standards, such as HL7’s FHIR, DICOM for imaging, and IHE profiles.
By using a cloud-based platform and simple APIs, the healthcare ecosystem may be able to quickly and efficiently exchange clinical information in efforts to improve patient outcomes, reported Practice Fusion.
“Interoperability should ultimately be about delivering the right health information at the right time, especially for providers,” explained Langan. “Patient care is getting more complex, often requiring the coordination of care and the exchange of detailed clinical information among multiple providers. Interoperability is not just a matter of efficiency, but is also critical for delivering optimal outcomes.”
Practice Fusion has added its company to the long list of health IT developers, healthcare systems, and healthcare organizations that have already signed the HHS interoperability pledge.
Healthcare organizations that provide about 90 percent of EHRs to hospitals have agreed to implement the pledge’s commitment to health information exchange and interoperability. Five of the largest healthcare networks have also signed the pledge.
Through the pledge, HHS aims to improve consumer access to EHR information, stop information blocking, and establish interoperability standards and guidelines.
“These commitments are a major step forward in our efforts to support a healthcare system that is better, smarter, and results in healthier people,” said Sylvia M. Burwell, HHS Secretary. “Technology isn’t just one leg of our strategy to build a better healthcare system for our nation, it supports the entire effort. We are working to unlock healthcare data and information so that providers are better informed and patients and families can access their healthcare information, making them empowered, active participants in their own care.”
Additionally, interoperability and health information exchange have been major areas of concern for HHS with the upcoming vote on the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA).
Earlier this month, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) asked healthcare stakeholders to provide feedback on defining and measuring interoperability in MACRA. As defined in the request for information, HHS is tasked with creating metrics for interoperability by July 1.
Under the proposed MACRA bill, ONC mentions widespread interoperability which is defined as the ability to communicate health data between certified EHR technologies of meaningful use participants and the systems of non-meaningful use providers.
However, some healthcare industry groups are questioning MACRA’s definition of interoperability.
According to Beth Israel Deaconess, HHS should release national interoperability frameworks that provide standards and guidelines before healthcare providers are liable to improve electronic health information exchange under MACRA.
HHS has made efforts to standardize policies, especially with the interoperability pledge. The pledge intends to create national standards and guidelines for exchanging health information and interoperability best practices.
Nevertheless, as time ticks down to the MACRA decision, HHS may not be ready to definitively release interoperability frameworks by the proposed deadline.