Stakeholders to CMS: We need interoperability standards

The government needs to step up to the plate and mandate clear standards on interoperability in order for the Meaningful Use incentive program and data sharing to work properly, according to a panel of stakeholders speaking on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' recent eHealth Summit in Baltimore.

The panelists were unified in their concern that currently, many standards are "semi-optional" and that providers and said that vendors will not succeed without strict standards.

"We can't use the data unless it comes as a standard," Ryan Bosch, chief medical information officer at Falls Church, Va.-based Inova Health System said. "It's like bottled water. If it's in a Tupperware, unlabeled, at your feet, you won't drink it. You don't trust it."  

Other panelists echoed the need for mandated standards. Russell Branzell, president and CEO of the College of Healthcare Information Medicine Executives, pointed out that the Meaningful Use quality measures don't match up with other quality measures. FierceHealthIT Editorial Advisory Board member Indranil Ganguly, vice president and CIO at CentraState Medical Center in Freehold, N.J., warned that "we can't afford to experiment…the people, resources aren't there."

Panel moderator Robert Anthony, deputy director of the Health IT Initiatives Group for CMS' Office of eHealth Standards and Services, said that CMS is trying to improve standardization in Stage 2 of Meaningful Use and balance between government regulation and the marketplace. John Glaser, CEO of Health Services for Siemens Health Care, suggested that the government let the market deal with usability, and use its powers to exercise authority in privacy, security and certification.

The government has struggled in the past about the extent to which it should regulate interoperability. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT initially planned on issuing formal rules regarding HIE governance, but opted last December to provide voluntary guidance instead, after receiving industry feedback.

To learn more:
- here's info on the summit