HLC President Tells Congress: “The Time is Here, The Time is Now to Achieve Full Nationwide Interoperability” of Health Data

In Testimony Before Senate HELP Committee, Head of Multi-Sector Health Advocacy Organization Lays Out Proposals for Greater Data Access, Sharing

WASHINGTON – In testimony today before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, the president of the Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC) provided Congress with a number of recommendations, supported by leading healthcare purchasers, payers, providers and health information technology companies, intended to accelerate the move toward the nationwide health data interoperability that will enable safe, high-value, high-quality healthcare.

In her testimony, HLC president Mary R. Grealy, whose organization is comprised of chief executives of the nation’s leading healthcare companies from all health sectors, said “the time is here, the time is now to achieve full nationwide interoperability of health information and to have secure, seamless access to data for clinicians, patients, and healthcare consumers.”

Ms. Grealy discussed the findings that emerged from a joint project conducted by HLC and the Bipartisan Policy Center in which researchers from the University of California-San Francisco interviewed dozens of private and public sector healthcare experts to identify the barriers standing in the way of data interoperability and how to overcome them.  To reach this goal, she said, private sector healthcare organizations “are placing the responsibility upon themselves – pledging action and embracing accountability.”

She said the recommendations include a call for collaboration between healthcare payers and providers to use payment incentives to drive adoption of baseline interoperability expectations, as well as similar contractual arrangements between providers and electronic health record companies.  She also said their report calls for common standards to be utilized to improve patient matching, and for healthcare providers, electronic health record companies, software developers, payers and other health sectors to rapidly adopt and implement open standards-based application program interfaces (APIs).

In her testimony, Ms. Grealy also praised the federal government for regulatory efforts to eliminate information blocking and ensure that consumers have easy access to their health information and the ability to share that data.  “These rules,” she said, “represent an important, and perhaps groundbreaking, step toward true nationwide interoperability.

She told the committee, “Our goals today and moving forward are clear and unwavering – we intend to bring information seamlessly to the point of care to support care delivery, and we will meet the information needs of patients and consumers to support their health and healthcare.”