The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT will be tracking whether structured care summaries are being exchanged between providers and "across vendor boundaries" as intended in the new Stage 2 Meaningful Use rules for electronic health records, says National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari, M.D.
"As we stated unequivocally in the final rule, we will pay close attention to whether the requirements in the rule are sufficient to make vendor-to-vendor exchange attainable for providers," Mostashari writes this week in ONC's Health IT Buzz blog. "If there is not sufficient progress or we continue to see barriers that create data silos or 'walled gardens,' we will revisit our Meaningful Use approach and consider other options to achieve our policy intent."
Structured care summary exchange must be achieved by 2014 under the Stage 2 rules released last week. As Mostashari describes, the rules "define a common dataset for all summary of care records, including an impressive array of structured and coded data to be formatted uniformly and sent securely during transitions of care, upon discharge, and to be shared with the patient themselves."
Mostashari also notes that ONC will work with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in developing an interoperability testing platform to "rigorously test that EHR technology can send, receive and incorporate standardized data using the specified standards and protocols." He asks for public participation in developing and vetting the Stage 2 certification test scripts.
"While any rule-making includes some compromises between the aspirational goals we want to achieve and the reality of where the market is, we continue to make progress toward the ultimate goal of nationwide health information exchanges," he says. "By setting ambitious but achievable targets for providers and vendors alike, I'm confident that we'll see the same hockey stick progress we've seen for adoption of EHRs for information exchange."
Earlier this week, Mostashari said on a National eHealth Collaborative webinar that while cross-vendor data-sharing is difficult, it's a critical goal to achieve. Federal agencies will revisit clinical quality measures included in the Stage 2 rule if necessary, he added.