By Bill Kotraba, vice president, healthcare solutions and strategy, Information Builders.
Data has long been a popular topic in healthcare and is even more so after this year’s HIMSS. The industry is buzzing about the joint CMS and ONC announcement, which proposes a framework to improve interoperability and support seamless and secure access of health information. The pressure is on for healthcare to tackle their data as the two organizations strive to provide patients with the ability to leverage personal information in various applications. And, this pressure will only increase as we look into the future, making it even more imperative that payers and providers address the issue now.
Look more closely, and you will see that with their recent announcement CMS and the ONC are focusing on healthcare organizations’ ability to manage data across the enterprise. Historically, healthcare has worked from siloed applications and data sources with light integration using interface engines. Recently, healthcare organizations have pinned their hopes on leveraging data effectively through huge investments in new EHR platforms. The reality, pointed out by government officials at HIMSS in Orlando, is that this still results in significant challenges for healthcare organizations to manage information across the data value chain.
Although not part of their proposed framework, CMS and the ONC point out the need for better patient mastering across data sources. Organizations hoped their investment in a centralized EHR platform would solve this but that has proven to not be the case. In addition to patient data, healthcare organizations face challenges in mastering physician data, which can have wide impact, including on value-based care initiatives. The joint proposal also highlights that the ability to push back accurate, cleansed data to source systems is critical.
Healthcare needs a unified approach
Using FHIR to stop data blocking and push the industry towards a standards-based approach will help, but it’s not sufficient for the data challenges facing healthcare organizations. In addition to tackling the issues pointed out at HIMSS, healthcare organizations must: