A recent article in HealthAffairs describes a significant decline in the number of both operational HIEs and HIEs in the planning stage from several years earlier. The authors note continuing barriers to broad-based HIE and a shift to vendor-driven exchange which diminishes the effectiveness of community-based networks. In effect, this translates to a shift away from geographic-based/dominated HIEs to product-dominated HIEs. We have already noted (see The Interoperability of Things) the lack of a national strategy on HIE, and ONC’s Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap barely mentions the concept.
Consumers continue to be frustrated with lack of access to their healthcare data, even as wearables and other consumer-targeted devices and services continue to sprout. Recently, ONC launched a Consumer Health Data Aggregator Challenge to spur the development of new applications and partnerships to provide aggregated health data to patients. While the financial “prize” for this effort is meager, recognition by ONC might be the real brass ring. This challenge focuses on the use of FHIR exclusively to support interoperability between systems and present data to consumers. I suspect that applicants will have some trouble meeting the requirements of the challenge effectively, and this is indicative of the broader challenge in supporting this type of data access.
The controversial report of the demise of CMS EHR Incentive Programs and Meaningful Use (MU) were greatly exaggerated. The confusion began with a statement (now removed) that CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt made at a healthcare conference on January 11, 2016. He was discussing the changes coming in the next few years to the Medicare program under MACRA, the Medicare Access & CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015. Among other things, Mr. Slavitt said, “Now that we effectively have technology into virtually every place care is provided, we are now in the process of ending Meaningful Use and moving to a new regime culminating with the MACRA implementation. The Meaningful Use program as it has existed, will now be effectively over and replaced with something better.”