Conference Coverage

Feds call for EHR interoperability. Again.



– In what feels like a tradition, the need to solve interoperability issues was front and center once again as the key goal presented by Health and Human Services officials at the annual meeting of the Office of the National Coordinator.

Gregory Twachtman/MDedge News

HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan addresses ONC 2018.

“It is actually impossible to move to a future health system, the one that we need ... without a truly interoperable system,” HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan said Nov. 29 during a keynote address.

“Patients need to be able to access their own records. Period,” he added.

Mr. Hargan emphasized that the HHS will define what it wants to see regarding interoperability, but leave it up to vendors and developers to come up with solutions on how this will be accomplished.

One example that he mentioned is Blue Button 2.0, a part of the MyHealthEData initiative, which allows Medicare patients to connect their claims data to apps to help them make informed decisions about their care.

“The use of apps here reflects to potential, we believe, for patient-centered technology to improve health,” Mr. Hargan said.

He also noted that the agency is looking at how existing law and regulation – such as the antikickback statute, the Stark law, HIPAA, and federal privacy regulations – might be hindering the transition to value-based care.

This analysis is “specifically focused on understanding as quickly as we can ... how current interpretations of these laws may be impeding value-based transformation and coordinated care,” Mr. Hargan said.

ONC is also taking a look at reducing provider burden, issuing a draft strategy for comment that specifically targets provider burden related to the use of EHRs and offer up a series of recommendations to help address it.

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