In House Hearing, Healthcare Leadership Council Details Public Policy Reforms Essential to Accelerate Health Information Interoperability Progress

Change Healthcare CEO Tells Lawmakers, “We can help more Americans maintain or improve their health better than we do today.”

WASHINGTON – Testifying before a pair of House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittees today, Change Healthcare President and CEO Neil de Crescenzo told lawmakers that health data interoperability can transform the nation’s healthcare system, but public policy changes are necessary in order to speed up progress toward that goal.

Mr. de Crescenzo was testifying on behalf of the Healthcare Leadership Council, a coalition of chief executives of companies from all health sectors.  Change Healthcare operates the largest financial and administrative healthcare network in the United States, linking, among others, approximately 750,000 physicians, 5,000 hospitals and 1,200 public and private payers.

In his testimony, Mr. de Crescenzo said progress in creating a nationwide interoperable health information network would be aided by measures to harmonize federal and state data privacy laws, modernize federal fraud and abuse statutes and establishing a firm deadline to put such a network in place.

He said a barrier to health data sharing “is the multitude of diverse, and often contradictory federal and state laws regulating health information.”  He said these laws “should be harmonized to facilitate greater information sharing for the benefit of patients while still protecting their confidentiality.”

Mr. de Crescenzo’s testimony addressed physician self-referral laws and so-called anti-kickback statutes, noting that “they were built for a fee-for-service world, but today they often stand as barriers to the kind of collaboration and information sharing that are essential for value-based healthcare approaches and for improving patient care.”  The Healthcare Leadership Council has noted, for example, that these laws prevent hospitals and pharmaceutical companies from collaborating on patient education programs that can improve medication adherence.

He also told the subcommittee members that a firm date of December 31, 2018 should be established for electronic health records systems to be sharing data nationwide.  He said a dependence on private sector innovation “with emphasis placed on secure data sharing to protect patient privacy, common standards and governance, and a ban on data blocking” would enable this target to be reached.

“We have the capability to reach this goal in the near term, not a decade from now,” he testified.

Mr. de Crescenzo told the lawmakers that increased access to data can transform the nation’s healthcare system.  He said, “Data interoperability can strengthen care coordination – enabling providers, payers, pharmacists, laboratories and others to be on the same page in treating a patient.  It can boost progress toward an outcome-driven, value-based payment system to replace the outdated and inefficient fee-for-service status quo while also improving our quality measurement capabilities.  With interoperability and access to clinical and claims data, we can accelerate medical research and give hospitals and physicians’ offices real-time access to comparative effectiveness findings.  An interoperable system can improve care to rural and underserved areas of the country through improved telehealth and remote patient monitoring.  Wellness and prevention will be enhanced through better use of patient-generated data.”

The policy recommendations cited in Mr. de Crescenzo’s testimony were all components in the HLC “Viable Solutions: Six Steps to Transform Healthcare Now” health reform proposals released last month.