As the federal government looks to further enhance the exchange of health information exchange, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives suggests the feds model new initiatives after some of their existing programs.

The Department of Health and Human Services in March issued a request for information as it considers policy moves to further accelerate interoperability and health information exchange beyond initiatives previously launched under the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. Responding to the request for information, CHIME applauds the certification programs that HHS already has in place for the electronic prescribing and meaningful use programs.

“CHIME believes that the certification process, developed under the eRx program and greatly refined by the EHR Incentive Payments program, has had a major impact on the adoption and use of health information technology,” according to the comment letter. “The work accomplished in Stage 1, and continued in Stage 2, of meaningful use to reach consensus standards on transport, vocabulary and content is foundational to advancing interoperability and exchange. As a policy lever, the impact of certification criteria developed for meaningful use cannot be understated.

“Thus, CHIME recommends HHS extend the concept toward the health information exchange market, via standard interfaces, standard methods for isolating sensitive information, standard means to securely transport patient care information (i.e. Direct), standard ways to accurately identify patients, standard protocols for tracking consent, etc. Patient data-matching, in particular, continues to be a dangerous and costly process for hospitals and health systems.”

Other recommendations from CHIME include:

* Dedicate substantial resources to the challenge of accurate matching of patient data;

* Continue a strategy that stresses local flexibility while looking for ways to lead stakeholders in developing technical standards, services and policies;

* Avoid mandating participation in a certain type of exchange that could be counter to individual market needs;

* Focus more heavily on policies that mandate transport, vocabulary and content standards;

* Advance standards that enable HIEs at all levels to interconnect and to implement interconnections as a requirement for certification; and

* Examine closely regulations, laws and conditions that may inhibit exchange.

The full comment letter is available here.

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