HIMSS issues interoperability call-to-action, highlights secure data, ubiquitous access

Improved interoperability requires integrating exchange frameworks, improving usability, earning the engagement of caregivers and patients, and more.
By Tom Sullivan
11:11 AM
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HIMSS interoperability call-to-action

HIMSS on Tuesday issued a firm call-to-action for interoperability with a focus on secure data exchange and improved access to information.

“We must achieve secure, appropriate, and ubiquitous data access and electronic exchange of health information,” the association said in its HIMSS Call to Action: Achieve Nationwide, Ubiquitous, Secure Electronic Exchange of Health Information. “Now is the time for bold action,” they said.

[Also: NHITweek: HIMSS posts 3 Congressional asks for 2017]

To that end, HIMSS outlined these specific calls to action.

1. Integrate interoperability approaches and trusted exchange frameworks.

HIMSS called on Health and Human Services to achieve semantic interoperability and data access with the goal of achieving higher-quality and cost-effective care delivery. Many providers today have little choice but to take a multi-pronged approach to health information exchange, even though examples such as Carequality and DirectTrust demonstrate collaboration is already underway.

2. Educate the healthcare community to implement standards and data formats to build an integrated approach to care.

HIMSS said HHS and ONC must support health IT community and standards development organizations in supporting new and non-traditional data types such as social determinants, public registries, genomics, quality reporting and environmental science. “Education is pivotal to ensuring that these data are based on known and adopted standards; standards that will continue to drive semantic interoperation and value for the broader healthcare community,” they said. 

3. Ensure participation from across the care continuum including patients and caregivers.

While existing frameworks focus on ambulatory and acute care settings, gaps remain elsewhere, HIMSS said. “HHS should include consumers, patients, caregivers, payers, public health and non-traditional provider groups (i.e., community-based providers, long-term/post-acute care), in these interoperability approaches and trusted exchange frameworks,” HIMSS wrote. “There is a tremendous need to better understand how all healthcare stakeholders can participate in these efforts, the value of the actors in these models, and identify the business and legal exchange agreements needed to further advance ubiquitous semantic interoperability.”

4. Identify minimum necessary rules for trusted exchange.

These include business, legal, privacy and technology rules that should forge a framework for trusted exchange that makes it easier for health entities to participate and enables care coordination. “HIMSS urges the use of the Health Information Technology Advisory Committee to facilitate this work, allowing for and obtaining public comment and feedback throughout the process.”

5. Standardize identity management approaches.

Secure data exchange and integration is unrealistic without strong identity management. To that end, the industry needs a common framework for patient identity matching that spans trusted exchange solutions. “We advocate for the community to identify, test, adopt and implement standards and their respective algorithms for matching patients to their data across and between clinical and claims data sets.”

6. Improve usability for care and research.

This must be a priority for the health IT industry and HHS to earn the engagement of caregivers, physicians and patients alike.

“Improved usability would ensure that data are consumed discretely, incorporated seamlessly into workflow, help enable clinical decision-making, allow secondary use of data for research, and limit the burden on the end-user. This enhanced exchange is fundamental to promoting patient safety, achieving quality outcomes, facilitating care coordination as well as transitions of care, and controlling costs,” HIMSS said.

Twitter: SullyHIT
Email the writer: tom.sullivan@himssmedia.com