An evaluation since the 2013 release of the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI) roadmap for healthcare information exchange found progress was made during 2014, but the goal remains a work in progress.
"In 2014, advancements were made in the adoption and use of new technologies; the implementation of innovative models of care and reimbursement; and harmonization of data standards for information exchange. Nonetheless, significant work remains to be completed," according to the report, conducted by the Louis W. Sullivan Institute for Healthcare Innovation.
It grades the industry efforts on four key areas of focus:
- Patient Engagement: Progress rating – Green. It points to efforts to standardize patient matching, expand literacy programs to encourage consumer use of health IT, embrace mobile technologies and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's roadmap. It cites challenges including adopting a national patient identifier, privacy and demonstrating return on investment for patient-facing technologies. Overall, the public and private sectors are on pace to meet WEDI recommendations, it says.
- Payment Models: Progress rating –Yellow. Models such as accountable care organizations have yet to fully mature, and their success and sustainability remain uncertain. A framework of core attributes and technological functionalities has yet to be developed. It calls this area "a fragmented hotbed for innovation" but says the industry needs further directed efforts to achieve the recommendations outlined in the initial report.
- Data Harmonization and Exchange: Progress rating –Yellow. The 2013 WEDI Report highlighted the need for harmonized data standards for reporting, care coordination, quality improvement, and population health management among stakeholders. The work of standardizing data to create a truly interoperable exchange remain in an early stage.
- Innovative Encounter Models: Progress rating – Green. Consumerism has created a vibrant testing ground to explore new ways of providing patient-centered care. Given the explosive growth in this area during 2014, the report predicts more federal legislation, reimbursement policies and consumer demand for services such as telehealth in 2015.
Five Republican senators have criticized the ONC's interoperability roadmap as lacking specific goals and deadlines, saying instead it "speaks in generalities" without answering the questions that vendors and providers have.
At WEDI's fall conference in Reston, Virginia in October, National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo spoke about the challenges and goals associated with implementing ubiquitous interoperability throughout the healthcare industry.
"When we take a look at where we are today as a country and where we're going, this is our chance to say 'we've built infrastructure for health IT on the front lines, we've built infrastructure around information exchange,'" DeSalvo said.