EHRA: Data should follow the patient

In its response to a Senate panel, EHRA also focused on patient data matching
By Bernie Monegain
10:45 AM
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The HIMSS Electronic Health Record Association told U.S. senators that, in general, a patient's healthcare data should follow the patient, and it also called for a nationwide patient data matching strategy.

The EHRA, made up of nearly 40 EHR companies, was responding in its Aug. 12 letter to a Senate Finance Committee request regarding healthcare data sharing. The committee letter, dated June 12, asked the association to advise the panel on various EHR topics, such as standards and data use.

EHRA noted the recent rapid uptake of EHRs by physician practices and hospitals, and asked Congress to work with the industry to ensure the best use of technology.

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"EHRA urges Congress and the federal government to engage with EHR developers and the broader health IT community to help prepare for and ensure the best use of technology," the EHRA letter, signed by association chair Mark J. Segal of GE Healthcare IT, stated.

"This growth in EHR adoption and associated digitization, including new ecosystems of connected health IT that includes but extends beyond EHRs, will drive important innovations, including personalized medicine, population health management, data analytics and advanced payment models. Given the critical role that EHRs will play in enabling these capabilities, we urge Congress and the federal government to engage with EHR developers and the broader health IT community to help prepare for and ensure the best use of technology," the letter read. 

In its attached addendum, the EHRA touched on four key areas:

1. What data sources should be made more broadly available?
Data from many sources should be available to authorized recipients for appropriate purposes, including, as feasible, data sets that link data across multiple systems and patients. Uses of all such data must, of course, conform to applicable privacy and security protections. Several categories of data should be considered, the EHRA said, including generated and captured data, personal health records, data from mobile and wearable medical devices and websites, captured data, payer data and more.

2. How and in what form should the data be conveyed?
"In general, data should follow the patient, with priority given to where the information is needed to provide clinical services. In general, the patient should determine who and for what purposes the data can be used," EHRA said, in part.

3. What reforms would help reduce the unnecessary fragmentation of healthcare data? What reforms would improve the accessibility and usability of healthcare data for consumers, payers and providers?
"We must continue to focus on standardizing common data elements used in health IT to reduce fragmentation in patients' health information and to more effectively support collaborative care delivery and data analytics." EHRA responded.

4. What barriers stand in the way of stakeholders using existing data sources more effectively and what reforms should be made to overcome these barriers?
EHRA pointed out that one of the most critical unresolved issues in the safe and secure electronic exchange of health information is the need for a nationwide patient data matching strategy.

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Access the EHRA's full letter and addendum here.