Health orgs making strategic interoperability plans beyond CMS and ONC rules

Deloitte shows how many providers – and even more payers – are going beyond checking boxes on new regs, understanding that wider data sharing has become a strategic necessity.
By Nathan Eddy
08:54 AM

Forward thinking healthcare leaders in the United States see the proposed rules to drive interoperability across the healthcare ecosystem as a base level from which to improve operations, according to a new report from health Deloitte.

Deloitte's survey of 70 payers and providers also indicated these health systems believe they will have to go beyond what their IT vendors currently provide in order to achieve the level of interoperability envisioned by the federal regulations.

The proposed rules published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology are aimed at improving the ability to share electronic medical information among different providers, caregivers and patients.

According to the survey findings, 43 percent of health system and 63 percent of health plan leaders said they plan to use the compliance requirements as part of their broader interoperability strategy – even as more than half of respondents say they are building their own application programming interface solutions.

Strategies vary from plans to use a hybrid approach of self-built infrastructure with vendor provided services to completely in-house designed APIs.

As the analyst firm expects the administration to finalize the rules in fall 2019, with many of the provisions going into effect on January 1, 2020, Deloitte recommended health systems prioritize a set of initiatives and road map to achieve compliance in time.

The report also suggests health systems would be wise to simultaneously establish longer-term goals to adopt digital tools, enhance consumer engagement and evaluate overall consent and risk management strategies for use of data.

CMS and ONC intend for the proposed rules to make it easier for providers, patients, plans, and other stakeholders to have improved access to the information necessary to coordinate individual care, as well as analyze population health trends, outcomes and costs.

Interoperability is seen as the key enabling feature of the sprawling digital transformation impacting the healthcare ecosystem, which will require access to data through open, secure platforms.

The Deloitte report warned health care organizations that fail to see beyond compliance deadlines and realize the greater strategic value of interoperability and data could risk falling behind.

However, last month’s Center for Connected Medicine/HIMSS Media survey of healthcare tech leaders shows that most hospitals and health systems are still depending on a single, integrated EHR, indicating health data-sharing is still lacking inside and outside of hospitals.

“Organizations should leverage the regulatory requirements on interoperability as a jumping off point for their broader strategy for sharing data with industry stakeholders and with patients,” the report noted, adding that those that "develop and implement a strategic approach to interoperability are likely to have a competitive advantage with insights, affordability, and consumer engagement in the future of health."

Nathan Eddy is a healthcare and technology freelancer based in Berlin.
Email the writer:
Twitter: @dropdeaded209

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