Barriers to health information interoperability are largely an unintentional side effect of the healthcare payment system and electronic health record companies are gradually improving information exchange, said several expert panelists during a July 23 Senate hearing.
Healthcare professionals say that the exchange of health information from sources across the care continuum can provide access to "actionable" data that improves care delivery and coordination, finds a report by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.
Now that electronic health records are in place at most hospital systems and other healthcare providers, and health information exchanges are helping providers share those records more easily, health IT experts – and a congressional committee – are looking at ways the federal government can help iron out emerging kinks.
"We have shared data between DoD and VA for a long time. But what we have not always done – and we are creating now – is a system for providers at the point of care…that natively integrates all of the data from both sides," said David Waltman, senior advisor to the Under Secretary for Health, during a June 11 demonstration of EHMP at VA headquarters in Washington, D.C.
The Health and Human Services Department agency that certifies electronic health records and health information technology meets the standards and specifications required under "meaningful use" requirements wants feedback on its testing methodology.
The Department of Health and Human Services has set up an email account that providers can use to blow the whistle on companies whose technology and products block health information exchange.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology recently awarded six teams $50,000 each to fund pilot projects that partner innovative, early-stage health IT companies with healthcare organizations to test their technologies.
Electronic health records, mobile health technologies and tools that analyze huge amounts of biomedical data are some of the building blocks of the White House's Precision Medicine Initiative, Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, told a congressional committee last week.
The Agriculture Department dedicated about $1 billion to upgrade health IT in rural America between 2012 and 2014, the USDA and Health and Human Services Department say.
Strategic use of electronic health records can help doctors meet key preventive goals such as getting blood pressure under control for 70 percent of their hypertensive patients, according to Health and Human Services Department officials.