Final rules for ESRD, home health push digtal record sharing

The Department of Health and Human Services has delivered as promised, maintaining in final payment rules for ancillary providers the notice that they may soon be required to adopt electronic health records and electronically share data with others.

The final rule outlining payment in 2016 for end-stage renal disease (ESRD) facilities, to be published in the Federal Register Nov. 6, and the final rule for home health agencies, both explicitly state that the industry is moving toward digital records and data sharing.

For instance, the ESRD rule states:

"[W]e encourage stakeholders to utilize health information exchange and certified health IT to effectively and efficiently help providers improve internal care delivery practices, support management of care across the continuum, enable the reporting of electronically specified clinical quality measures, and improve efficiencies and reduce unnecessary costs."

Language in the home health rule is virtually identical.

Both rules reference the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's interoperability roadmap and the draft version of the agency's 2016 Interoperability Standards Advisory, encouraging providers to take these "best available standards" into account as they implement data sharing "across the continuum of care."

The rules also include specific references to health IT and their specific provider type. The ESRD rule reduces the estimated time it would take for facilities to submit data elements for quality incentive program submission because more facilities are using EHRs and can digitally extract the data and submit it directly to CMS. The home health rule alerts home health providers that health IT and HIE use is "essential" to improve quality and lower costs through initiatives like value based purchasing.

HHS has been steadily working to increase EHR adoption beyond the providers in the Meaningful Use incentive program. The 2015 edition of EHR certification criteria, released in October, focuses on data sharing and supports care in other settings and uses.

To learn more:
- read the ESRD rule (.pdf)
- here's the home health rule (.pdf)