The Health Information Technology Advisory Committee may sharpen its focus on price transparency next year, members discussed Wednesday during the group's monthly meeting.
Price transparency has proved a complicated topic. But it has come up several times this year, according to Carolyn Petersen, co-chair of HITAC and senior editor for Mayo Clinic's health information website.
She suggested establishing a "new HITAC task force" on the issue. The committee could also formalize price transparency as a component of the group's existing Interoperability Standards Priorities Task Force.
This past spring, HITAC voted to nix price transparency requirements from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology's information-blocking proposal, cautioning that tying price transparency to the rule would slow down its finalization.
At the time, Andrew Truscott, co-chair of HITAC's information-blocking task force and Accenture's managing director for health and public service, suggested creating a dedicated task force within HITAC to produce recommendations on future rulemaking related to price transparency. "We believe that (price transparency) needs to be given a focus," he said at the time.
Members suggesting looking at price transparency from a data standards perspective, to ensure patients seeking cost information have consistency.
"We need to come up with some standards, or approaches, for sharing prices that are common," said Sheryl Turney, a member of HITAC who also leads data policy business administration teams at Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. "So it's not going to be confusing for the consumer."
HITAC, established under the 21st Century Cures Act, provides policy recommendations to the ONC. The advisory committee's priorities, as defined in the Cures Act, are promoting interoperability, privacy and security, and patient access to health information.
The ONC sets objectives for HITAC, but solicits feedback from the group to inform those goals.
Members of HITAC—a group of roughly 30 representatives from health systems, health insurers, IT vendors and federal agencies—provided input into what they think should be next year's top health IT priorities.
HITAC already plans to create a task force dedicated to providing the ONC recommendations on the electronic health record reporting program, pending the agency's release of draft criteria for the program. The program, as mandated under the Cures Act, will ask EHR developers and users to report information on usability and interoperability, among other metrics.
Other new task forces HITAC is considering include one to address price transparency, as well as a joint task force with HHS' National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics to tackle challenges with prior authorization.
Members also advocated for prioritizing discussions of payer-to-provider health information exchange in 2020, although they stopped short of suggesting a dedicated task force.
"There's so many win-win-wins in that space, for provider, patient and payer," said Jim Jirjis, a HITAC member and chief health information officer at HCA, adding that payers have increasingly been approaching the Nashville, Tenn.-based hospital chain about exploring ways to improve data exchange.
HITAC plans to establish its 2020 focus areas by Jan. 15, its first meeting of next year.