More often than not, we write about our accreditation or evaluation programs here. And we’ve talked a lot about the evolution of patient-centered care and our role in promoting it. Today, though, we want to share our take on a revolution underway that could shape the future from the exam room, to the insurers’ offices and even to our own hallowed hallways here at 13th and L.
We’re talking about knocking down the barriers that slow the process of collecting, sharing and analyzing health care data to coordinate and improve the quality of care. The pursuit? Interoperability. Many health care electronic systems—for practices, hospitals and even payers—are not designed to “talk” to each other… at least, in a uniform language. Also, some systems unfairly block the sharing of data to enhance their own bottom line.
We Support These Proposals
So, the federal government—specifically, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT—recently released parallel proposals for improving interoperability, firmly ending data blocking, and significantly increasing patients’ access to their own electronic health information. We strongly support the proposal. It will lead to better electronic data exchange, patient care and outcomes.
We’ve shared our support with the very folks who’ll influence the final way forward. You can read our letters to both Seema Verma, CMS Administrator and Don Rucker, MD, National Coordinator for Health IT.
We believe the proposals, if approved, would bring the promise of health IT much closer to its full potential. It’s really exciting, the prospect of automatically extracting quality measurement data from EHRs, registries, health information exchanges (HIE) and other electronic health information (EHI) sources. We believe that automation will cut the burden of reporting and improve the accuracy of results. It would also lead to more meaningful measures than traditional reporting based on claims data alone. Just imagine how all these electronic data sources can enrich claims data.
Some Refining Recommendations
As always, we think there’s room for improvement. And we made some suggestions. They range from a longer time frame for one new requirement to a stronger validation process for the computer systems that would collect, manage and presumably share data. You can certainly read the details in each of the letters. Spoiler: We asked to further extend NCQA’s expertise to a higher-profile role in this process. Ours is the more robust of the two approved e-measures certification methodologies.
The Ask: Follow Our Lead
So, read away. And we of course, welcome your support. You may submit your own comments at www.regulations.gov. Deadline is June 3, 2019. CMS and ONC will likely issue final rules later this year with provisions taking effect in 2020.
Matt Brock is the Director of Communications at NCQA. After more than two decades working in broadcast journalism, Matt now leads NCQA’s efforts to develop unique content that engages and informs consumers as well as providers, plans and policymakers via this blog, our website, NCQA.org and numerous social media platforms. Matt’s goal is to educate consumers and to direct them to the best resources when considering quality in their health care decisions.