AHIMA Pledges Support for HHS Interoperability Plan

AHIMA is one of several health IT industry groups announcing its support for a new US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) initiative to improve the flow of health information between consumers and providers.

On Monday HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced during a keynote speech at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Annual Convention and Exhibition in Las Vegas that electronic health record (EHR) manufacturers, healthcare systems, and industry stakeholders, including AHIMA, have pledged to support the interoperability initiative.

So far companies that provide 90 percent of electronic health records (EHRs) used by hospitals nationwide have agreed to implement three core interoperability commitments developed by HHS. Those commitments include:

  • Consumer access: Several health IT vendors have agreed to use standardized application programming interfaces and a single shared standard for communicating with one another, Health Level Seven—Fast Health Care Interoperability Resources (FHIR), so that user friendly resources like smartphone and tablet apps can quickly be made market ready and compatible with one another.
  • Not engaging in information blocking: This component is intended to help providers share individuals’ health information for care with other providers and their patients whenever permitted by law, and not block electronic health information (defined as knowingly and unreasonably interfering with information sharing).
  • Standards: This program asks supporters to implement federally recognized, national interoperability standards, policies, guidance, and practices for electronic health information, and adopt best practices including those related to privacy and security. This leans on support for ONC’s Interoperability Standards Advisory—a coordinated catalog of existing and emerging standards and implementation specifications. By identifying current best practices in standards, this advisory will assist healthcare providers to more easily collaborate with one another and share data across interoperable EHRs.

“AHIMA believes these three principles will make a significant and meaningful difference in making sure health information is available where and when it’s needed,” said AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon, MBA, RHIA, CAE, FACHE, FAHIMA. “AHIMA and its thousands of member health information management professionals are proud to partner with HHS and other leading associations, healthcare systems, and electronic health record providers to advance this critical cause.”

AHIMA joins other trade groups in the pledge, including CommonWell, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, and vendors and providers such as Allscripts, athenahealth, Cerner Corp., Epic Systems, Meditech, and many more. For a full list of interoperability pledge supporters, click here.

With this project, HHS aims to address the fact that electronic health information flows only in pockets of the healthcare system, and some current business practices can inhibit data sharing. Even when electronic health information is shared, it can be underused and difficult to access due to hard-to-use technology or the use of different standards, according to an HHS statement.

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