eHealth Initiative: Tackle looming policy issues to accelerate info exchange

The Washington, D.C.-based eHealth Initiative-- responding to a request for information issued in March by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services--said last week that excessive federal regulation of health information exchange would result in inhibited innovation and development.

In a letter to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner and National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari, eHealth Initiative CEO Jennfier Covich Bordenick (pictured) reiterated the position that the coalition took last summer when it called for input from multiple stakeholders in further developing data exchange.

"A regulatory approach to standards as proposed in the RFI may not be the correct tool to use to instill standards," Bordenick said. "The development of governance, on the other hand, is benefited by the greater specificity of requirements found in the construct of policy development."

The letter also said that ONC and CMS could help to accelerate data exchange efforts by solving several looming and urgent policy issues, including a "solution for patient matching," and "variances in privacy rules across states that inhibit exchange of information from one state to another." The group also said that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation should research various methods of interoperability.

"As issues are discovered, they can then be addressed in an environment that fosters innovative approaches to creating solutions," Bordenick said. "We believe this program can be successful in further exploring ways in which other healthcare settings, such as behavioral health, long-term care, and other healthcare provider types, are incorporated into an overall information exchange model."

In its recent comment letter, the American Hospital Association said it does not want the federal government placing any additional health information exchange requirements on providers. Meanwhile, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives 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 eHI letter (.pdf)