A federal agency plans on leveraging two existing surveys of hospitals and office-based physicians to meet a mandate under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 to measure—initially—two types of use and sharing of health information nationwide.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS has announced it plans to measure:
• The proportion of healthcare providers who are electronically sending, receiving, querying and integrating information received from outside sources
• The proportion of providers who report using the information they receive from outside providers and sources for clinical decisionmaking
MACRA requires HHS to establish metrics for the exchange and use of healthcare information as a way to measure the “widespread interoperability” of electronic health record systems.
In April, the ONC issued a request for public input on how to best meet the MACRA requirement without further encumbering hospitals and physicians with additional reporting. The ONC announced on its official website, HealthITBuzz, it had received nearly 100 comments in response.
The federal agency intends to use two existing surveys to obtain this data, one the American Hospital Association's survey of hospitals' health IT usage; the other the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics' survey of office-based physicians.
“Both surveys have relatively high response rates and convey health care providers' perspectives on exchange and interoperability,” wrote Seth Pazinski and Talisha Searcy, both with ONC's Office of Planning, Evaluation and Analysis.
Meanwhile, ONC is “committed to advancing interoperability of health information more broadly,” Pazinski and Searcy wrote. “We will be expanding our measurement efforts to include populations across the care continuum in the near-term, as well as an increased focus on outcomes in the longer-term.”
The most recent iteration of the AHA survey found that while 96% of hospitals have an EHR that's been tested and certified as qualified for use in the federal EHR incentive payment program and 82% of hospitals exchanged some clinical information, such as lab results or clinical-care summaries, only 18% had clinicians who often used patient information received electronically from outside providers or other sources.