Comments from associations, practitioners and others have been adding up in response to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Request for Information issued last month to accelerate and improve health information exchange and interoperability among providers.
The RFI, published in the Federal Register March 7, seeks comments on a myriad of options to encourage HIE "that collectively result in a more coordinated, value driven healthcare system." The options include requiring providers to engage in HIE as a condition of participating in the Medicare program, collaboration on new electronic-specific measures of care coordination during transitions of care, and testing of different payment programs to align providers and share data. So far 23 responses to the RFI have been filed.
The RFI asks commenters to respond to 10 different questions, such as which policies and programs would most encourage data exchange among competitors, how to engage long term care providers in HIE, and how to use existing authorities to better support HIE.
Industry stakeholders have long expressed concern about interoperability, including the cost of data sharing, inadequate security, and lack of vendor readiness. Patients also have questioned the ability of HIEs to protect their data, whether they can restrict the sharing of their data to others--such as payers--and if they can keep their data out of HIEs entirely.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT already has stated that it will not issue regulations regarding HIE governance, opting instead to provide voluntary guidance.
Comments on the RFI are due by April 22.