HLC Newsletter

Congressional Briefing Highlights Private Sector Progress on Data Interoperability

Dr. Tate Erlinger, vice president of clinical informatics, Ascension

The Healthcare Leadership Council hosted a briefing on Capitol Hill focused on the path to data interoperability that is seeing impressive strides forward but is still strewn with barriers that need to be addressed.  The rapid development of technology, along with shifts in the delivery of care, has left the American health system with siloed health data.  The call from patients and providers alike for easier access to patient data has led the private sector to take the initiative in developing industry standards and goals, working with federal officials intent on the same system-wide interoperability objective.

Tate Erlinger, M.D., vice president of clinical informatics at Ascension, presented real-world examples of provider-to-provider communications and data management infrastructure.  He stated that it is difficult to implement best practices if systems cannot communicate with each other, and electronic health records (EHRs) must manage the complexity of healthcare by being able to successfully match patients, trade documents, identify facilities, and more.  Dr. Erlinger noted that the government and private sector need to engage on this issue together to avoid unintended consequences of proposed rules and regulations.

Kashif Rathore, vice president of interoperability at Cerner, demonstrated how Cerner platforms enable scalable interoperability and improve patient care.  He explained that standards must be in place so that the exchange of data can be centered around the patient, and wherever the patient goes, the data is there.  Rathore cited challenges to systemwide data interoperability, including variations in patient privacy consent rules, lack of a national patient identifier, and a lack of common standards for data exchange. He also highlighted examples of private sector collaborations, such as CommonWell and Carequality, the Argonaut Project and Da Vinci Project.

Paul Uhrig, chief administrative, legal and privacy office for Surescripts, stated that in every problem there is an opportunity.  He provided the example of how 40 percent of patients abandon treatment when a prior authorization is involved, and 10 percent do not pick up their medication because of cost.  Surescripts’ real-time prescription benefit allows for automated electronic prior authorization as well as all cost and coverage information delivered to the patient while sitting with the provider.  Interoperability is necessary for accurate data to be updated in real-time, transforming how clinicians, pharmacists and patients interact.

The Healthcare Leadership Council and Bipartisan Policy Center collaborated on an interoperability report that was highlighted by HLC president Mary R. Grealy in the briefing.  It describes the healthcare industry’s shared vision for an interoperable healthcare system and recommends measures to overcome barriers that are slowing progress.