AHA: No new HIE regulations necessary

The American Hospital Association does not want the federal government placing any additional health information exchange requirements on providers, it said in a recent comment letter to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner and National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari.

Instead, AHA Vice President and Deputy Director of Policy Ashley Thompson said, more of a focus should be placed on the implementation of current health IT initiatives, particularly health data exchange requirements under Stages 1 and 2 of Meaningful Use. Additionally, Thompson said, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT should focus on removing barriers to interoperability.

The letter is in response to a request for information issued last month by HHS about how the agency can or should use policy mechanisms to accelerate health information exchange.

"Adding specific health information exchange requirements risks significant unintended consequences, including forcing use of tools that are not suited to local conditions, duplicating approaches to sharing data and increasing reporting burden," Thompson said. "Indeed, 32 participants in the Pioneer ACO program sent a letter to CMS … noting the challenges associated with gathering data to calculate the quality measures they already are reporting. Adding additional metrics could pose significant additional barriers to success."

Meanwhile, in a similar letter, the Health IT Now coalition--which represents patients, providers and payers that support the use of technology to improve care quality and safety--said that the U.S. healthcare system "lacks a compelling business case to improve or value productivity. Executive Director Joel White added that the system encourages "inefficiency" and promotes "waste," and said that the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services needs to take a broad approach to changing the business case for data exchange.

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, in its letter, said it believes that HHS should extend processes developed under the eRx and Electronic Health Record Incentive Payment programs to accelerate and improve health information exchange and interoperability among providers.

To learn more:
- here's the AHA's letter (.pdf)
- read Health IT Now's letter (.pdf)

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