Groups ask HHS for quicker decisions on emerging standards

WEDI, HL7 and others urge the agency to promote ‘a more nimble and responsive approach to standards adoption.’

In a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, several healthcare standards organizations are calling for streamlining and making more predictable the process for submitting attachments as well as modernizing existing rules to improve patient care and reduce burdens on clinicians.

The Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange, HL7 and the other organizations are making the suggestions in response to a request for comments from the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics.

In addition to WEDI and HL7, the other organizations collaborating on the response include the CAQH Committee on Operating Rules for Information Exchange, the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs and X12.

“In response to the NCVHS recommendations to the Department of Health and Human Services, our organizations came together to collaborate on common recommendations and context to share with HHS given our unique leadership roles within this industry space,” the letter notes.

Comments in the letter fall into three categories:

Expedite release of regulations governing a standardized approach to electronic attachments. The groups write that “standards and operating rules to support the electronic exchange of attachments are ready for industry adoption.” The letter urges HHS to take steps to adopt standards that will engender industry confidence in using electronic attachments, which can “significantly reduce administrative burden and improve patient care by supporting claim submissions, prior authorizations, referrals, transitions of care, care coordination documentation requirements, as well as simplifying other patient data communication requests.”

Prioritize a predictable federal process and guidelines for demonstrating value of adoption. The letter asks HHS to support NCVHS’ suggestion that the agency regularly update all standards and promote “a more nimble and responsive approach to standards adoption.” The industry needs more predictability from HHS, as well as quicker regulatory response to meet industry needs, the standards groups state.

Streamline the HIPAA process to ease implementation and measure effectiveness of new standards. HHS needs quicker response to proposed standards, especially establishing expectations for the data it needs to justify “new or updated standards and operating rules,” the letter states. It points to the need for accelerated review and adoption of standards “based on demonstrated value and burden reduction.” The letter recommends HHS take a tack of “failing fast” and that it “establish a process of earlier evaluation of effectiveness using clear criteria that results in more timely industry advancement.”

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