HIMSS wants more Congressional action to spur interoperability

Calling the nation's current healthcare infrastructure inadequate for ubiquitous exchange of patient information, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society recently published four recommendations for Congress to spur interoperability.The recommendations stemmed from a discussion that took place among HIMSS government relations personnel Jan. 30.

The recommendations come as officials with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT continue to prioritize interoperability, particularly as HHS moves more rapidly toward a reimbursement system based on value.

HIMSS' recommendations include:

  1. Facilitate core interoperability through development and implementation of nationwide agreed-upon data and transmissions standards: HIMSS suggests using standards development organizations to create use cases and implementation guidance. It also calls for regular updates to nationally accepted standards; the establishment of testing tools; and funding for pilot programs that allow providers and developers to "test and mature implementation guides, while still being able to meet ... CEHRT requirements."
  2. Harmonize quality reporting standards: HIMSS wants to see the development of strategies to identify and educate professionals on methods to prevent unintended consequences stemming from the use of health IT. It also calls on establishment of and funding for a National Measurement Enterprise that would comprise "open and transparent measure development, measure endorsement and measure application."
  3. Privacy and security enhancement: HIMSS calls for cooperation between ONC, the HHS Office for Civil Rights, the Federal Communications Commission and the National Institute of Standards and Technology to endorse "relevant privacy and security standards." It also calls on Congress to work with HHS and the private sector on accounting of disclosures regulation.
  4. Improve patient safety: This can be attained, HIMSS says, through creation of the Health IT Safety Center called for in the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act's health IT risk-based framework.

"Health IT is fundamental to transforming healthcare," HIMSS says. "However, in order for technology to reach its full potential to smooth transitions between healthcare settings, help control costs and improve quality of care, the technology has to be interoperable."

Last September, HIMSS called on Congress to fund ONC's interoperability efforts, and to expand telehealth services.

To learn more:
- read HIMSS' recommendations (.pdf)