Dear Trump Administration: A Vision for the Future of Healthcare
Dr. Vindell Washington, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and Andy Slavitt, Acting Administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), discuss how the agencies they oversee have tackled the challenges of meeting clinicians’ data needs in a value-based healthcare system (The CMS Blog, Jan. 17).
The goal, they say, is to use the information from each patient encounter to make the next encounter better – across the entire healthcare system.
“During the past seven years, we’ve made remarkable progress towards this goal: In 2015, 77 percent of office-based physicians reported using a certified electronic health record (EHR) to inform clinical care, while the percentage of office-based physicians with any EHR has double since 2008.”
Addressing the incoming presidential administration, Washington and Slavitt said, “We need 21st century information technology, enabling ready and secure data access, to support a modern, value-based healthcare system”
21st Century Tools
The 21st Century Cures Act, enacted by a bipartisan Congress in December 2016, clears a path for overcoming data sharing obstacles by advancing interoperability through several provisions, including the prohibition of information blocking and authorization of penalties of up to $1 million per violation.
The law also gives ONC new authority to address usability and interoperability through additional conditions of certification for health IT developers related to access, use, and exchange of electronic information; usability, security, and business practices; real-world testing; and publishing application programming interfaces.
CMS has also taken steps to help clinicians, registries, and others in their vendor community more easily share and receive feedback about performance, but clinicians work with many payers, not just Medicare. The industry faces additional challenges, such as:
- Variable access to data across disparate payers and settings;
- Difficulty obtaining actionable insights to inform care because of a lack of comparability from multiple sources; and
- Increased administrative complexity due to participation in alternative payment model programs tied to different payers.
Healthcare in the Future
In closing, Washington and Slavitt outline for the new administration six elements that will ensure a data-rich, patient-centered, and value-based healthcare system:
- Seamless interaction between point-of-care solutions and other entities, including through the use of standard APIs.
- Growth of third-party entities that can meet provider data access and reporting needs.
- Use of low-cost shared services necessary for aggregating and linking data.
- Greater data transparency and data consolidation.
- Standardization of key patient data needed for quality measurement.
- Alignment around how quality is measured and reported across payers.
Read the full text of this letter on The CMS Blog.