ONC Announces Plan for Measuring Interoperability

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has identified two specific methods for measuring the achievement of “widespread interoperability” as required in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). The two measures were developed to satisfy both the feedback ONC has received from industry stakeholders as well as the parameters outlined in MACRA.

According to a HealthITBuzz post, the two measures are as follows:

  1. Proportion of healthcare providers who are electronically engaging in the following core domains of interoperable exchange of health information: sending, receiving, finding (querying), and integrating information received from outside sources.
  2. Proportion of heatlhcar eproviders who report using the information they electronically receie from outside providers and sources for clinical decision making.

The measures “come from existing national surveys of hospitals and office-based physicians,” so providers to not need to worry about any added burden to their existing reporting requirements for participation in federal healthcare programs such as Medicare, according to the post.

The ONC previously issued a Request for Information to solicit comments from the industry prior to releasing the measures. The agency received nearly 100 comments, and found that they tended to focus on four topics:

  1. Burden: Do not create significant additional reporting burdens.
  2. Scope: Broaden scope of measurement to include those not eligible for Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.
  3. Outcomes: Measures should go beyond exchange of health information and also examine usage and usefulness of information that is exchanged as well as the impact of exchange on health outcomes.
  4. Complexity: Recognize the complexity of measuring interoperability.

According to the post, “these metrics will help inform the wide range of efforts underway to achieve a learning health system where information flows seamlessly and securely.”

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