Interface costs are one of several barriers impeding adoption of health information exchange, according to Sharp HealthCare CIO Bill Spooner. The HIT Policy and Standards Committees held a joint hearing on Jan. 29 to get public input on a range of HIE issues and Spooner’s testimony laid out eight recommendations to support continued maturation of HIE.

That includes reaching the goal of truly standard interoperability standards that could be expected to bring down interface costs, Spooner said in written testimony. But he also asked that the government consider publishing each vendor’s interface fees on a Web site. “While the EHR is not the specific topic of this hearing, it is important to note the barriers to HIE related to incomplete and unspecific interoperability standards and the cost of interfacing the EHR with the HIE,” he noted. “It is not uncommon for providers to report interface cost quotes in the $5,000-$10,000 and higher range, with some reported as high as $20,000, while vendors comment that every interface is different and requires custom development. Small practices just cannot afford such costs.”

As the industry moves toward accountable care organizations and other new care delivery and payment models, federal and private health payers must move toward standardizing data collection and reporting processes, Spooner asserted. He recommends ensuring that transaction types and outcomes indicators of federal and private ACOs are consistently defined and can reasonably be automated.

“Work with vendors and providers for agreement on the appropriate indicators and reasonable implementation timetables,” Spooner wrote. “While this recommendation more closely relates to the EHR itself, the data must be interoperable among ACO partners. Additionally, excess effort with such outcomes indicators impacts HIE as such effort diverts resources that might be otherwise employed at HIE. This is a significant problem today.”

Testimony from Spooner and others is available here.

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