National HIT Deputy Coordinator Farzad Mostashari, M.D., issued a call for more electronic health records vendor transparency in such areas as their market share and contract provisions, saying these are important factors providers need to know when selecting an EHR.

Most doctors that have adopted EHRs, he noted, are not happy with their contracts and many small physician practices lack the support to negotiate a better contract. However, Mostashari provided few details on the government’s plans to increase vendor transparency during the Physician IT Symposium at HIMSS11 in Orlando. More HIMSS news can be found at http://www.healthdatamanagement.com/himss

The Office of the National Coordinator is committed to the goal of more vendor transparency and to an open process of discussing with vendors and other stakeholders how to do it, Mostashari told Health Data Management. Regional extension centers, for instance, could work with vendors on developing standard contract provisions. But it is premature, he added, to say if Stages 2 and 3 of EHR meaningful use will have criteria related to transparency.

In his presentation to physicians, Mostashari touted the availability now of free downloadable software to easily and securely exchange health information over the Internet. ONC through its Direct Project initiative facilitated industry stakeholder development of the software.

At least 29 EHR vendors are planning to or have embedded the Direct Project protocols in their EHRs, with the list available at http://directproject.org/content.php?key=overview. Because of the initiative, secure health data exchange via the Internet “will become essentially frictionless this year,” Mostashari said.

--Joseph Goedert

 

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