Tie Financial Incentives to Data Exchange, Fed Advisers Say

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A Health IT Policy Committee task force has made four recommendations targeting financial and business barriers that are holding back the interoperability of healthcare information.

Paul Tang, M.D., chair of the interoperability task force, acknowledged that none of the recommendations are “likely to change the facts on the ground overnight.” But he argued that alignment of incentives for providers and vendors could foster business practices that result in routine interoperable data exchange.

According to Tang, a key inhibitor to health information exchange has been economic incentives—which he asserts at best have not encouraged, and at worst have even discouraged, sharing of clinical information among providers. Part of the problem is traditional fee-for-service payments models do not create incentives to make HIE processes and technologies a higher priority.

However, with the transition to value-based care delivery, Tang believes the pace of progress on interoperability is insufficient to meet the timeline for payment reform in light of the announcement earlier this year by the Department of Health and Human Services that it will convert 30 percent of fee-for-service payments to alternative payment models by the end of 2016, rising to 50 percent by 2018.

The four recommendations made by the task force for near-term actions to accelerate progress towards interoperability include:

*Developing and implementing meaningful measures of HIE-sensitive health outcomes and resource use for public reporting and payment.

*Developing and implementing HIE-sensitive vendor performance measures for certification and public reporting.

*Setting specific HIE-sensitive payment incentives – that incorporate specific performance measure criteria – and timelines for implementation that establish clear objectives of what must be accomplished under alternative payment models.

*Convening a major-stakeholder summit co-led by the federal government (e.g., ONC, CMS) and private sector to act on the ONC Roadmap to accelerate the pace of change toward interoperability

Also See: Task Force Proposes Interoperability Summit to Engage Stakeholders

Interoperability and effective information exchange are crucial to achieving value-based care delivery, Tang said, arguing that clear and specific financial incentives tied to HIE-sensitive measures must be defined in the near term.

The four recommendations are part of the task force’s draft interoperability report to Congress—required by the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015—which is being finalized.

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