Health groups continue to call for better interoperability, data transparency

In additional comments to Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on healthcare data transparency, the West Health Institute and the Pacific Business Group on Health (PBGH) also have also composed letters to the two officials.

In its letter, the California-based West Health addresses the need for "seamless, semantic interoperability" so patients, families, providers and payers can access information to enable them to make informed decisions and provide the highest quality care to those they serve.

"The current lack of interoperability within clinical information systems results in needless delay, duplication, error, and preventable patient harms," CEO Nicholas Valeriani writes. "It works against the ability of all providers engaged in the care of an individual patient to readily share observations and insights, and thereby frustrates the coordination of care that is essential to having optimal, patient-centered healthcare."

Valeriani also offers recommendations for interoperability, including working with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT to set a date for when electronic records must be interoperable and using federal reimbursement incentives to reward data sharing among providers.

PBGH, also based in California, says that it supports efforts to increase transparency throughout the U.S. health system. However, it says further work is needed when it comes to public release of Medicare data, especially for stakeholders to understand the performance of hopitals and doctors participating in the program. PBGH asks Congress to encourage the Obama administration to "produce and release information that would allow analysts to ... risk-adjust claims for patient severity and standardize data for geographic differences in cost."

PBGH adds that patient-reported outcomes are a key ingredient missing for a patiernt-centered health system. It writes that the system should use patient-reported outcomes for provider accountability and consumer choice. The group asks that Congress provide support for development of improve performance measures and more data on population health.  

On Wednesday, the American Hospital Association, American Medical Group Association and Electronic Health Record Association wrote similar letters to the lawmakers on CMS transparency and data standards.

Former U.S. Department of Health and Human Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently said the agency has released more than 1,000 data sets. However, the public launch of a database that will disclose potential conflicts of interest among doctors has been delayed.

To learn more:
- read the West Health letter (.pdf)
- read the PBGH letter (.pdf)

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