Can your organization tackle interoperability on its own?
This article is the sixth and final piece in a series on meeting information blocking requirements, understanding the definition of electronic health information (EHI), and overcoming barriers to data exchange and interoperability.
Meeting the requirements of information blocking final rule and other interoperability regulations remains a moving target. On one hand, the Department of Health and Human Services isn’t yet enforcing the rule. On the other hand, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has already proposed updates to the rule.
This uncertainty leaves many healthcare leaders wondering if they have the expertise and resources available in-house to tackle interoperability compliance. Exploring the following questions can help determine if vendor partnership will help organizations meet their interoperability needs.
Is EHI readily available? EHI is now defined as any piece of electronic protected health information used to make healthcare decisions. This is primarily kept in the electronic health record and also includes imaging scans, lab results, data from remote monitoring devices, and medical bills stored outside the EHR. Can your organization locate all EHI sources, access them, and share them in a timely manner upon request?
Is my data sharing program up to date? The information blocking rule overlaps with, and in certain cases overrides, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Privacy Rule and HIPAA Security Rule. Some state laws present additional requirements, such as a consultation prior to the release of certain test results. Have information disclosure policies across the entire organization been updated to reflect these changes, including the new definition of EHI?
Do staff know what the new rules mean? In many offices, front-line staff field requests for access, exchange, or use of medical information – and have more work to do with the final rule now in effect. Have staff been trained on what EHI must be shared, what data formats are acceptable, what exceptions are allowed, and when delays in releasing EHI are permissible? What resources can they turn to as questions arise over the phone or at the point of care?
Have we engaged with post-acute care? Nursing homes and other PAC facilities are often absent from the interoperability discussion. This is a missed opportunity: More than one in four patients are discharged from the hospital to PAC, and an inability to support electronic data exchange disrupts care continuity. Has your organization explored how to share information with entities using clinical systems unable to accept EHI as defined under the information blocking rule?
Leaders that aren’t confident in their answers to these questions are at risk of more than just regulatory non-compliance. As the healthcare industry continues to embrace interoperability, organizations unable to readily exchange EHI will find themselves at a competitive disadvantage, potentially being locked out of network partnerships or payer contracts. Engaging with an industry partner dedicated to advancing interoperability can help organizations ensure compliance, preserve competitiveness, and improve care quality in an increasingly challenging business environment.
About Consensus Cloud Solutions: Consensus Cloud Solutions, Inc. (NASDAQ: CCSI) has been a global leader of digital cloud fax technology for over 25 years. The company leverages its technology heritage to provide secure solutions that transform simple digital documents into advanced healthcare standard HL7 FHIR for secure data exchange. Consensus offers eFax, a global leader in online faxing, Consensus Unite and Consensus Harmony interoperability solutions, Consensus Signal for secure automatic real-time healthcare communications, Consensus Clarity, a Natural Language Processing (NLP)/Artificial Intelligence solution, and jSign for electronic digital signatures. For more information about Consensus, visit consensus.com. Follow us on Twitter @ConsensusCS.