Healthcare Industry Pledges to Improve Health IT Interoperability

Major health information technology (IT) developers and the government are coming together to improve the flow of health information.

Major health information technology (IT) developers and the government are coming together to improve the flow of health information. Companies that provide 90% of the electronic health records used, healthcare systems, and provider, technology, and consumer organizations have taken an interoperability pledge.

HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced the pledge and the partners who have taken the pledge at the annual Health Information Management Systems Society conference.

“These commitments are a major step forward in our efforts to support a healthcare system that is better, smarter, and results in healthier people,” Burwell said in a statement. “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.”

Consumer Access: To help consumers easily and securely access their electronic health information, direct it to any desired location, learn how their information can be shared and used, and be assured that this information will be effectively and safely used to benefit their health and that of their community.

No Blocking/Transparency: To help providers share individuals’ health information for care with other providers and their patients whenever permitted by law, and not block electronic health information (defined as knowingly and unreasonably interfering with information sharing).

Standards: Implement federally recognized, national interoperability standards, policies, guidance, and practices for electronic health information, and adopt best practices including those related to privacy and security.

There are 3 core commitments as part of the pledge:

Among the 49 companies and organizations that took the pledge were the American Society of Clinical Oncology, athenahealth, the College of Healthcare Informatics and Management Executives, Geisinger Health System, the Healthcare Leadership Council, Kaiser Permanente, and SureScripts.

“The future of the nation’s health delivery system is one where electronic health information is unlocked and shared securely, yet seamlessly, to put patients at the center of their own care,” said Karen B. DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc, national coordinator for health IT. “The broad agreement by leaders in health and health IT across the nation brings us much closer to our vision for a truly learning, connected health system.”

In addition, HHS and the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health IT announced a proposed rule that would modify the ONC Health IT Certification Program. The rule would focus on 3 areas:

Direct Review: enabling ONC to directly review certified health IT products

Enhanced Oversight: increasing ONC oversight to provide the means for ONC to quickly address testing issues

Greater Transparency and Accountability: making identifiable surveillance results of certified health IT publicly available to provide customers and users with valuable information about the overall performance of certified health IT

“Today’s proposed rule will help us ensure that health IT products and the health IT marketplace are continuing to meet the needs of the health care system,” Dr DeSalvo said in a statement. “We look forward to comments on the proposed rule from health IT developers and other stakeholders as we continue to work together to make health information available where and when it is needed safely and reliably.”