A look at the most recent news related to interoperability indicates that there is an incredibly wide range of initiatives underway in this arena. There are so many different ways to advance the idea of interoperability, from studies on registries and patient access to medical records to statewide initiatives regarding commitment to EHR adoption and a data locator on a health information exchange.
For instance, Open Health Tools, a nonprofit that encourages open-source creation of health IT tools, is working with the Georgia Institute of Technology on a public-private initiative to provide a virtual environment where healthcare professionals from various industries, sectors and backgrounds can collaborate on health IT projects.
And, an international study of 13 registries in five countries found that registries enable healthcare professionals to engage in continuous learning, as well as identify and share best clinical practices. The authors estimated that if the U.S. had in place a similar registry for hip-replacement surgery, it would avoid some $2 billion of an expected $24 billion in total costs for these surgeries in 2015.
On the state level, the Rhode Island Quality Institute (RIQI) has a new data locator feature available on the statewide health information exchange (HIE), which RIQI operates. The Patient Record Inquiry Service allows providers to search the HIE database for longitudinal clinical records on their patients via web portal. Data are available on nearly 200,000 patients and approximately 8,000 patients are signing up to participate every month.
Efforts regarding accountable care organizations (ACOs) also are advancing: 32 healthcare organizations from across the country will participate in a new Pioneer ACOs initiative made possible by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Pioneer ACO initiative will seek to encourage primary care doctors, specialists, hospitals and other caregivers to provide better, more coordinated care for Medicare patients and could save up to $1.1 billion over five years, the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services stated.
Under this initiative, operated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation Center, Medicare will reward groups of healthcare providers that have formed ACOs based on how well they are able to both improve the health of their Medicare patients and lower their healthcare costs.
With all of these ongoing efforts, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT announced that vendors should have little choice in deciding whether their products will adhere to national standards.
Interoperability advances are coming fast and furious. It’s no wonder that many physicians have concerns. “Any kind of change produces anxiety when you don’t know what the outcomes will be,” Kenneth I. Shine , MD, of the University of Texas Health System, said about the results of two surveys about the interest patients have in access to their medical records. The EMR is going to be a part of 21st century medicine and health, Shine asserted. “It’s understandable, when confronted with this, that physicians would have questions and concerns about whether this kind of access will be more time-consuming for them and that it will somehow lead to more lawsuits. We have not found any of those to be major issues.”
Hopefully, you and your colleagues are experiencing only positive results. Please share.