Pew: 4 ways to improve ONC's proposed interoperability rule

The Pew Charitable Trusts outlined four ways to enhance the ONC's interoperability rule proposal, which aims to increase data sharing between EHR systems as well as streamline access for patients and providers to medical records.

While Pew did suggest opportunities to improve the rule, the agency also highlighted the following positive initiatives of the proposal: using application programming interfaces to improve health data interoperability between separate EHR systems and requiring EHRs to make physician's clinical notes available to share. Pew also favored implementing Medicare penalties to hospitals and medical practices that do not meet the requirements of the rule two years after its finalization and setting specific criteria for EHRs used in pediatric care.

Here are Pew's four suggestions to improve ONC's proposed interoperability rule:

1. Adopt the U.S. Postal Service standard for patient addresses. Setting a standard format for patients' address data would reduce variations in EHR data that can cause inaccurate linking of medical records. 

2. Expand types of data that could help match patient records. ONC should explore different types of data, such as email address, that EHR systems are required to make available to help improve records matching.

3. Increase allergy data requirements in EHRs. Instead of being limited to medications, ONC should require that EHRs include patient data on allergies to foods and other substances when the information is available.

4. Use pediatric clinicians to determine EHR safety. When testing EHRs for pediatric functions, ONC should require that pediatric clinicians' experiences be incorporated.

More articles on EHRs:
8 usability priorities for EHR vendors
Change Healthcare, CommonWell expand partnership for patient data interoperability
What the US can learn from Estonia's cloud-based, blockchain-secured EHR system

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