Testifying before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP), DirectTrust president and CEO David C. Kibbe, MD MBA, urged the federal government to take action to help overcome the problems impeding the sharing of health information between and among parties authorized to access electronic health data, commonly referred to as “information blocking.”
“While the responsibility for assuring secure interoperable exchange resides primarily with the health care provider organizations, and not with the EHR (electronic health record) vendors nor the government, I strongly believe there is a role for government to encourage and incentivize collaborative and interoperable health information exchange,” testified Dr. Kibbe, one of the nation’s foremost authorities on health information exchange security issues. Dr. Kibbe’s organization, DirectTrust, is a health care industry alliance created by and for participants in the Direct exchange network used for secure, interoperable exchange of health information.
Dr. Kibbe testified at a full Senate HELP committee hearing titled “Achieving the Promise of Health Information Technology: Information Blocking and Potential Solutions. During his testimony, Dr. Kibbe enumerated the problems with information blocking and offered suggestions to help improve upon the current situation in the near-term. Among the many actions Dr. Kibbe suggests the government take to help overcome information blocking include:
Continue to shed light on these problems, and work with trade groups, standards and policies organizations, and others to set expectations for interoperability of EHRs and other applications certified as interoperable, especially those that have been federally subsidized within the meaningful use programs.
Bring better and improved EHR certification processes forward beyond the testing laboratory so that the utility and usability of interoperability features of ONC certified EHR products in the field becomes part of the public record, and can be used in purchasing decisions. Collaboration and partnership with non-profit trade groups to achieve this goal would be advisable.
Accelerate federal agency use of and demand for open, standards-based interoperable HIE (health information exchange) with private sector providers and provider organizations, thereby removing reliance on paper-based mail, fax, e-fax and courier for these federal programs.
Examples include Veterans Health Administration referrals to and from private sector medical practices and hospitals; Veterans Benefits Administration health information exchanges with private sector medical practices and hospitals; the use by Medicare, Medicaid, and state agencies of interoperable HIE for communications with private sector providers and provider organizations for limitation of fraud, payment adjudication, claims attachments requests, and other administrative transactions now done via fax and mail.
Continue to tie more robust ONC EHR certification and use of certified EHR technology to participation in value-based purchasing programs, wherein interoperability and collaboration across multiple organizations in multiple-vendor environments is financially rewarding to providers and their health IT vendors. Demand for collaboration and interoperability is best driven by underlying business models and business cases supported by regulation and oversight.
Health IT’s most pressing issues may be so prevalent that they can’t be contained to a single post, as is obvious here, the second installment in the series detailing some of the biggest IT issues. There are differing opinions as to what the most important issues are, but there are many clear and overwhelming problems for the sector. Data, security, interoperability and compliance are some of the more obvious, according to the following experts, but those are not all, as you likely know and we’ll continue to see.
Here, we continue to offer the perspective of some of healthcare’s insiders who offer their opinions on health IT’s greatest problems and where we should be spending a good deal, if not most, of our focus. If you’d like to read the first installment in the series, go here: Health IT’s Most Pressing Issues. Also, feel free to let us know if you agree with the following, or add what you think are some of the sector’s biggest boondoggles.
Michael Fimin, CEO and co-founder, Netwrix
The largest concern of any healthcare organization is protecting patient personal data. Every year healthcare entities of all sizes become victims of data leaks, fresh examples are both Anthem and Premera Blue Cross, and lose thousands of dollars mainly because of employee misbehave or human error. Being not an easy one to prevent, human factor sets IT pros a number of challenges to cope with:
1. Insider threat. Unfortunately, privilege abuse is a primary root cause for many data breaches. No matter if an employee is breaking bad or his credentials were stolen, sensitive data is put at risk. The only way to prevent insider threats is to have visibility into the IT infrastructure and be able to track any changes made to both security configurations and data. Monitor user activity and establish rigorous control over accounts with extended privileges. Regularly review all access rights to ensure that permissions are granted adequately to employees’ business needs.
2. Security of devices. In 2014 healthcare organizations suffered from physical theft or loss of electronic devices more than any other industry, said the Verizon 2014 DBIR. Without proper identity and authentication management personal data stored on these devices can be easily accessed by adversaries, leading to financial and reputational losses. If your employees’ laptop or tablets end up in the wrong hands, encryption, two-factor authentication and ability to manage the device remotely will protect your data, or at least will make hacker’s job much harder.
3. Employees’ negligence. Deliberate or accidental mistakes pose more danger to data integrity than you might think. A simple email with confidential data sent to the wrong address may lead to a huge data leak. Make sure that your employees are familiar with the company’s security policy and are aware of what they should do to maintain security each person in the company should clearly understand that integrity of information assets is their personal responsibility.
Dr. Barry Chaiken, chief medical information officer, Infor Healthcare providers organizations invested billions of dollars purchasing and implementing electronic medical records with this investment driven by the economic incentives provided by the HITECH Act. Now that these systems are installed an up and running, organizations struggle to obtain real value from these investments. These systems were implemented with speed in mind rather than clinical transformation that improved quality and reduced costs. Now, organizations must embrace clinical transformation and change management to redo workflows and processes to effectively impact care. Organizations cannot justify their investment in EMRs unless they rework their EMR implementations to obtain true value from their deployment.”