This past January, acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt announced that there would be major changes to the Meaningful Use program, which elicited a sigh of relief from much of the healthcare industry. Many providers have found that it prevents them from focusing on patient care and instead forces them to focus on the strict benchmarks of the Meaningful Use program.
Since the announcement in January, providers have been anxiously awaiting any sort of information around what changes will come to the Meaningful Use program as we know it. Last week, at the 2016 HIMSS Conference, HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell gave a glimpse into what providers can expect with the updated program. The focus will be on interoperability across healthcare data since this has been a huge criticism of the program from the beginning. It will be a move away from strict guidelines and rules for physicians to a less restrictive form of care for physicians and their patients.
To complete this, CMS is looking to improve the way in which EHR systems share and interpret data by connecting these systems so that health data can be shared across all entities including hospitals, labs, clinicians, pharmacies, and patients – regardless of vendor or application. This initiative will help health information systems to advance effective and positive care across all organizational boundaries to individuals and their communities. The new push towards interoperability will also address the issue of data blocking across providers. While many have stated data blocking was never done purposefully, a report by the Office of the National Coordinator last April raised some questions with its accusations around the prevalence of this issue. With new data standards in the works, CMS hopes to reduce any sort of information blocking in the future.
In order for an increase in interoperability to be successful across all healthcare providers, three key components need to be in place.
- Functional interoperability, which will allow data to be exchanged from one information technology system to the next without requiring the receiving system to interpret any of the data.
- Structural interoperability, which defines the format and structure of the data so everything will be very uniform across all organizations.
- Semantic interoperability, which is the ability for multiple systems to exchange data and then for those systems to easily make use of that data that has been exchanged.
The leading EHR vendors, according to Definitive Healthcare, are shown below.
Already many of the major EHR vendors, including Epic, Cerner, MEDITECH, and Allscripts, have agreed to participate in the new interoperability initiative. These vendors all understand the need to address the issues of health data interoperability, information sharing across providers, and positive patient engagement. Their agreement brings the vision of a connected healthcare system, where information is seamlessly and securely shared across systems, one step closer.
Definitive Healthcare has the most up-to-date, comprehensive and integrated data on hospitals, physicians and other healthcare providers. Our hospital database tracks nearly 7,700 US hospitals and includes data on meaningful use implementation as well as EHR systems and other technology utilized.