More than a year after their release, a set of long-awaited regulations designed to make it easier to share data between healthcare organizations and with patients went into effect in early April.
The federal regulations, released by HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and CMS in March of last year but subsequently pushed back amid the COVID-19 pandemic, have required substantial preparation from executives at hospitals and health systems. That’s included clinical and health information management staff who have retooled workflows, IT staff who have deployed new technology capabilities, and marketing staff who have helped alert patients about the changes, not to mention involvement from compliance leads.
So with that backdrop, who are the healthcare executives charged with implementing the wide-ranging interoperability and information-blocking regulations?
It varies by organization.
The most successful hospitals and health systems have taken a multidisciplinary approach, said Andrew Truscott, managing director for health and public service at consulting firm Accenture. “While this was seen initially as a technical series of regulations, they actually have implications across the broader organization,” he said.
Truscott is also a member of the federal advisory committee that gives policy recommendations to ONC, dubbed the Health IT Advisory Committee, where he previously co-chaired an information-blocking task force.
While a chief information or technology officer might commonly be the executive overseeing implementation, the task may also fall to a compliance or medical officer.
Either way, the executive-in-charge will be closely collaborating across multiple disciplines—information technology, health information management, legal and compliance, privacy and information security, clinical, quality and safety, finance, and patient experience.
It can help to set up a project management office or work group with representatives from such departments, to coordinate and ensure their perspectives are heard as needed.
“What’s been interesting about this exercise is these are not necessarily departments that are regularly coordinating together,” said Samantha Burch, director of health IT policy at the American Hospital Association. “This is certainly an instance where it’s required for those viewpoints to come together.”