HIT Policy Committee: Interoperability will require HIE-specific incentives

It will take specific outcome measures used in payment models with a defined timeline to achieve healthcare interoperability in the United States, the Health Information Technology Policy Committee says in a report sent to Congress this week.

To that end, it says, participation by nearly all healthcare stakeholders to align in that direction will be a must.

"Recommending a patchwork of individual steps to address interoperability will not work as well as motivating the entire ecosystem to work on the multi-dimensional challenges of achieving interoperability," the committee says. "Focusing on HIE-sensitive outcome measures will encourage and reward innovation with fewer unintended consequences than relying on certification of technology alone."

The report makes four recommendations to move in that direction:

  • Develop and implement meaningful measures of health information exchange (HIE)-sensitive health outcomes for public reporting and payment.
  • Develop and implement HIE-sensitive vendor performance measures for certification and public reporting.
  • Set specific HIE-sensitive payment incentives that incorporate specific performance measure criteria and a timeline for implementation that establishes clear objectives for alternative payment models
  • Convene a working summit of major stakeholders in government and the private sector to act on the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's Interoperability Roadmap to accelerate progress.

The American Academy of Family Physicians, for one, recently criticized ONC for lacking "the necessary level of urgency to achieve this important goal."

National Coordinator Karen DeSalvo said that in 2016, ONC will focus on "near-term challenges," including making data readily available and usable for patients and making electronic health record systems less clunky and more standardized.

The report was criticized by some, Politico reports, including University of Michigan researcher Julia Adler-Milstein, who serves on the committee. According to Adler-Milstein, not enough stakeholders spoke "frankly" about information blocking.

To learn more:
- read the report (.pdf)
- check out the Politico post