Perhaps you’ve heard a thing or two about Health Information Exchanges, those technology systems that can securely connect multiple providers to share relevant pieces of clinical data.
But if rules for Stage 2 of CMS’ “meaningful use” EHR incentive program are released tomorrow as expected by some industry insiders, providers will have to get themselves more acquainted with HIEs.
Stage 2 is expected to include a rule that providers will have to participate in an HIE and actually exchange data, according to EHR Association vice chairman Charles Jarvis, who is also the vice president of NextGen Healthcare.
“That’s the biggest new addition we expect,” said Jarvis, during an interview with Physicians Practice at the HIMSS12 Conference in Las Vegas. “In Stage 1, providers simply had to try to connect. In Stage 2, we expect there’s going to be a [requirement] on the part of providers to demonstrate health information exchange.”
The reason this is good news is that an HIE will allow physicians to share patient information more easily.
“Care rendered by one doctor can be integrated by care rendered by multiple providers,” said Jarvis. “It isn’t uncommon to be seen by multiple doctors. Each of those doctors is giving patients a different level of care at different times. What HIE lets people do is share[current] information at different times.”
What this means is if “Mrs. Smith sees a primary care doctor on Monday and cardiologist on Thursday, the information is delivered via [the HIE] by Thursday,” he adds.
However, the extent to which providers can share data might be limited by whether or not the healthcare industry (including EHR vendors) and state governmental organizations can agree on a technology specification.
Though the 41 EHRs that Jarvis’ organization represents are generally in consensus, arguments are happening between governmental and non-governmental organizations on the specifics of a standard technology specification. In fact, says Jarvis, there are currently 400 or so vendor specifications floating around. And those are just the ones he knows about.
One effort that has some potential of gaining traction is a partially-funded “multi-state collaborative” that has nine states on board.
But going forward, Jarvis says he expects more industry cooperation out of necessity.
“Making a protocol is a lengthy process,” says Jarvis. “Everybody has to be able to compromise a little bit.”