DirectTrust to Trump: Heed these 4 pieces of EHR interoperability advice

Starting with ONC leadership, the Trump team should seek to hold the gains in electronic health record adoption and interoperability, the group says.
By Mike Miliard
01:15 PM
DirectTrust Trump EHR interoperability

DirectTrust put forth a list of four recommendations to spur health information exchange and improved interoperability to President-elect Donald Trump's transition team.

In a closed-door meeting on Dec. 20, officials from DirectTrust, an alliance comprising healthcare industry stakeholders who use the Direct network to exchange patient data, made the case that maintaining forward movement for interoperability – among providers, and between physicians and patients – is essential for care coordination.

"We've made significant progress in the areas of increased electronic health records adoption and interoperability during the past four years," said DirectTrust CEO David Kibbe, MD, in a statement. "Our hope is that the momentum established to this point will continue under the new administration."

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Toward that goal, DirectTrust offered four suggestions to the Trump team:

Appoint a strong leader at ONC. Trump should select a National Coordinator for Health IT who is well-respected by the medical community and well-versed in current and emerging healthcare technologies, according to DirectTrust. This candidate should have "the skills to speak to technical audiences on the key standards for interoperability, security controls, and content delivery that support value-based payments."

Seek to "hold the gains" in EHR uptake and interoperability. New healthcare policies rolled out under the Trump administration should build on existing technologies for interoperable exchange already integrated into EHRs under the 2014 Certification Program, such as Direct Messaging, eHealthExchange, IHE-XDR and the CCDA – while also supporting development of new technology and evolving standards, such as FHIR, according to DirectTrust, which implored the incoming administration to avoid "throwing the baby out with the bathwater."

Keep a focus on cybersecurity. With widespread worry about data security in healthcare, use of  "the latest secure, reliable transport mechanisms to move data," is key, according to DirectTrust – and so is working to ensure that policy and operational efforts hew closely to core security requirements such as encryption and authentication.

Offer regulatory clarity. Rules holding healthcare providers accountable for improved outcomes, such as those laid out in MACRA, should be "clear, targeted and evidence-based," said DirectTrust – especially as the federal government works to reduce regulatory and documentation burden on providers, as laid out in the health IT provisions of the just-signed 21st Century Cures Act.

"We look forward to working with the new administration, and in particular with ONC and CMS, to support interoperability and provide the industry with reliable means for secure and easy exchange of health information," said Kibbe.

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