David Kibbe, M.D., CEO at secure messaging vendor DirectTrust, admits his trend forecasts for health information exchange in 2016 are optimistic, but if they come anywhere close to fruition it will be a powerful year of change.

To start, Kibbe sees patients participating more in electronic exchange of health data. “There is very little consumer involvement in HIE now, but I think we’re at a turning point.” He believes patients and other health consumers will become more active participants in electronic exchange of data as patient portals give them greater access to their clinical records and providers continue to accept patient engagement as necessary to attain better health outcomes.

Kibbe, who needs some cleanup work on a hip at Mayo Clinic, sees the change in physician acceptance of HIE in his own rural North Carolina and non-technical internist, who called and asked him for the Direct messaging address of Mayo so he could send medical records.

Kibbe’s other predicted trends for the coming year include:

“Freed” Health Data will Drive Enrichments in Personal and Professional Uses: Consumers now have multiple access to health data from electronic health records, insurance companies, health departments, formal health information exchanges, pharmacies, pharmaceutical firms, e-prescribing systems and research programs, among others. Epic Everywhere, for instance, moves billions of records a year. Kibbe believes 2016 is when patients really start to use the data they have access to.

Also See: Five Telemedicine Trends for 2016

Federal and State Agencies will Move toward Greater Interoperability: “Those agencies that own and operate care delivery facilities and seek secure, interoperable means of sharing patient data with private sector providers will be on the front lines of greater interoperability,” he says. The Veterans Health Administration, Department of Defense, Indian Health Service, state health departments and federally qualified health centers “will increasingly replace fax, mail and paper transport of health information with secure messaging and other vendor-neutral ways of secure electronic exchange.” So will Medicare, Medicaid agencies and the Postal Service as providers increase their capabilities to exchange data through their electronic health records systems.

Meaningful Use Will Face an Early Forced Retirement: “Having accomplished the significant goals of greatly expanded EHR adoption and baseline interoperability via Direct, but also having alienated almost the entire provider community by overreaching for the final Stage 3 version of its regulations, the Meaningful Use programs will be phased out by the end of 2016,” Kibbe says. How the retirement comes isn’t yet year, he acknowledges. Providers, viewing Stage 3 as not aligning well with value-based payments—which is where they really need to go—may walk out of Meaningful Use and accept financial penalties rather than spend more time and money without adding value. Or, Congress may end the program. Or, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT may see the handwriting and bow out.

Security, Privacy and Identity will Rule: The cost of data breaches now is too high to be tolerated. Healthcare stakeholders will start insisting on more rigorous certification, accreditation and auditing of security and identity controls “as a first condition of participating in data sharing,” Kibbe predicts. “This will include requirements for the placement and routine testing of intrusion detection and protection systems. Two-factor authentication (sign-on) to medical records systems will be routinely offered and will become required by the end of 2016 in many systems. Awareness of identity in cyberspace risks will become a conscious concern for everyone in healthcare.”

And of course, Kibbe predicts reliance on Direct secure messaging will continue to grow as fax and mail communication becomes obsolete because providers realize coordination of care must be close to real-time, especially in communities where care is delivered in a multi-vendor environment.

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