Interoperability Depends On EHR Vendors: AHA - InformationWeek
Healthcare // Analytics
06:50 PM

Interoperability Depends On EHR Vendors: AHA

Providers don't need more regulation -- they need fewer obstacles to complying, says hospital association in reply to government's request for information on interoperability.

5 Tools Connect Patients To Their Healthcare
5 Tools Connect Patients To Their Healthcare
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
The American Hospital Association (AHA) does not want the federal government to impose more regulations on healthcare providers to encourage health information exchange.

It would, however, like the government to demand more from electronic health record (EHR) vendors to advance interoperability at several different levels, according to an AHA letter to the Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT (ONC). The AHA sent the letter in response to the ONC's request for information (RFI) on how to increase interoperability.

From the AHA's viewpoint, healthcare payment and delivery reforms, coupled with the government's Meaningful Use requirements, are all that's required to propel providers along the path to more effective health information exchange. What stands in the way of that, however, are external barriers. Hence the AHA would like ONC "to remove barriers for interoperability and support development of a robust infrastructure for health information exchange."

[ Are poorly designed electronic healthcare record systems driving medical personnel back to paper? Read Healthcare Workarounds Expose EHR Flaws. ]

"The federal government already has a remarkable number of requirements to share information," said Chantal Worzala, director of policy for the AHA, in an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare. "If you look at the Meaningful Use stage 2 requirements, whether you're reporting to public health or sending transition-of-care documents to the next provider when a patient leaves the hospital or is referred to another physician, those requirements already exist. Also, the rules require providers to give patients access to their information via a portal."

The challenge is that providers don't have the infrastructure in place to meet existing requirements, said Worzala. "So we'd prefer that the government focus on removing the barriers to the exchange that [is] required under Meaningful Use or [is] incentivized via programs like the Accountable Care Act," she said.

Among other things, the AHA letter said that EHR vendors should be required to use the same medical terminology for 2014 certification. However, the most important such requirement in the ONC's current certification criteria -- that all EHRs use the SNOMED-CT vocabulary for problem lists -- is an issue for AHA partly because it duplicates the ICD-10 coding system that the industry must move to next year. AHA said the ONC should require the ability to "cross-walk" from SNOMED to ICD-10 in certified EHRs.

Worzala noted that SNOMED is not widely used in the U.S., even though it was developed here. AHA is concerned that providers lack the technical and educational resources and the strategic plans to implement problem lists based on SNOMED by Oct. 1, 2013, when Meaningful Use Stage 2 goes into effect for hospitals. The key challenge seems to be that doctors aren't sure how well their diagnoses will be translated into a uniform terminology like SNOMED. So healthcare organizations would like to see the mapping to SNOMED better vetted and tested.

1 of 2
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
User Rank: Apprentice
4/30/2013 | 4:07:08 AM
re: Interoperability Depends On EHR Vendors: AHA
I completely agree that the first step towards interoperability
needs to happen on the back end, on the vendor side. If vendors donG«÷t work
towards being able to cooperate with other vendor systems, then any
preparations done by providers would be in vain. The technology and
capabilities have to be there in order for the providers to adapt their
workflows. Once the systems are in place then the providers can train and adapt
to meeting the new requirements.

Jay Simmons
Information Week Contributor
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of the Cloud Report
As the use of public cloud becomes a given, IT leaders must navigate the transition and advocate for management tools or architectures that allow them to realize the benefits they seek. Download this report to explore the issues and how to best leverage the cloud moving forward.
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on for the week of November 6, 2016. We'll be talking with the editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll