Bipartisan Policy Center: 4 steps for providers, payers to lay groundwork for interoperability

While progress has been made toward making health IT systems more interoperable, there is still much left to be done. To assess next steps for reaching healthcare interoperability, the Healthcare Leadership Council — a coalition of healthcare CEOs — and the Bipartisan Policy Center — a Washington, D.C.-based think tank — outlined four measures that providers, payers and the government can take to further advance data sharing in the industry.

In 2014, just 23 percent of U.S. nonfederal acute-care hospitals electronically exchanged patient medical records with providers outside their systems. This number nearly doubled by 2017, with 41 percent of hospitals embracing EHR interoperability.

Drawing on the experiences and expertise of more than 100 individuals representing every sector of healthcare, the HLC and the BPC identified four ways providers, payers and government can continue to advance interoperability in the industry:  

1. Strengthen the business case. Align incentives among payers and providers to establish baseline expectations for interoperability and information sharing. Use payment incentives that focus on outcomes rather than volume and contracts.

Additionally, clinicians, hospitals, health systems, specialty societies and group purchasers must collaborate with EHR and clinical software developers to agree on and drive adoption of baseline expectations for products.

2. Improve technical infrastructure. Providers, software developers, payers and other organizations must collaborate on widespread adoption of patient-centered approaches to identification. Healthcare organizations should also pursue rapid adoption of Health Level 7's Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources standards framework to accelerate data access and information sharing.

3. Improve policies and regulations. Healthcare organizations should work with the federal government and organizations that represent patients to implement a common "Notice of Information Access Practices." This type of notice will help to reduce patient confusion and make it easier for individuals to access health information.

Also, states should consider aligning their privacy laws with HIPAA.

4. Establish stablish governance and leadership. Leaders from both the public and private sector should work together on the identifying, and subsequently the annual reporting of, key measures used to assess national interoperability progress.

To read the HLC and the BPC's report, click here.

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