Last month, the American Hospital Association expressed their concerns on using meaningful use data for measuring EHR interoperability, and advised the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology to revoke the requirement. Recently, a group of 37 medical societies have also urged the ONC to leave out the usage of meaningful use data exchange requirement for assessing EHR interoperability for MACRA implementation. The group voiced their concerns in a letter sent as a response to the request for information (RFI) by ONC to evaluate interoperability and meaningful use of EHR.
The letter states: “Despite claims by many health IT vendors that their products are interoperable, the vast majority only exchange static documents in a manner that satisfies minimum Meaningful Use (MU) requirements. Many in health care view this level of exchange as little more than digital faxing. We are therefore concerned that both the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) are misinterpreting the current use of health IT as a benchmark for successful interoperability.”
The group of medical societies, which is led by American Health Association, denounces meaningful use data exchange, as it focuses more on the quantity than the quality of information shared between the healthcare units. “These measures are a poor metric for interoperability, being too focused on the quantity of information moved and not the relevance of these exchanges or the underlying business case for transmitting data,” the letter further says. “Greater exchange of patient data does not mean that we are achieving interoperability and better coordinated care. For medical professionals and patients alike, interoperability means the usefulness, timeliness, correctness, and completeness of data, as well as the ease and cost of information access.”
The medical societies highlighted that if proper metrics and standards were not developed soon, it would smother competition in the healthcare IT market. They also believe that it would also interrupt the security on health information exchange. The group advised ONC to join forces with CMS and figure out ACI goals for which interoperability is intrinsic. “There should be a natural fit between the use of health IT and the achievement of certain interoperability goals. Such an approach could be done by focusing on specialty-specific interoperability use cases rather than the quantity of data exchanged.” If not, it would further increase the burden on healthcare units to participate in MIPS and MACRA implementation.