You may have read that some congressmen are calling for a halt to Meaningful Use Incentives.
They are citing “ . . . a lack of standards for EHR interoperability as grounds for HHS to rethink its methods for subsidizing the adoption of EHR systems by eligible providers and hospitals”.
What ever happened to HL7, CCD and CCR?
These are standards that accommodate interoperability and their origins pre-date the MU criteria, so, if MU Stage I achieved nothing more than imposing these standards, the number of duplicate lab tests, to take but one example, should have decreased, yielding significant cost savings.
Of course, it’s one thing to say to a healthcare facility that they must to be in a position to exchange data, but another thing entirely to get this working seamlessly at a practical level.
Let’s take a closer look at lab tests.
We know that patients go to different healthcare facilities for testing services. Given the brief nature of most doctor/patient encounters, it’s obvious that a doctor would need, in advance, to consolidate test results for orders requisitioned by other healthcare agencies in order to avoid requisitioning the same tests again.
What are the mechanics of consolidating test results for a patient? Phone the patient, ask what other healthcare facilities the patient has recently visited, what tests were requisitioned, then contact the facilities for the information? Not likely.
The easy solution is to log into the regional HIE and download and import the data.
Sounds easy, but is it?
The e-Hub we designed for interoperability is being implemented at a commercial customer location for some 250,000 patients across 100 healthcare facilities. The agreed upon protocol is that test facilities will upload test results to the e-Hub where these will be stored, ready for mirroring to member agencies. The day prior to a patient encounter, an agency will be able to requisition the complete set of received HL7s for download and import to its EMR.
Clearly, all of this did not happen overnight – the project went through the usual analysis phase but started up only last May and went into pilot phase production in August. The project is on schedule for a Jan 1, 2013 rollout.
Sounds to me like interoperability is alive and well.
It would be a shame to throw this out the window.K Walter Keirstead Civerex Systems Inc. 800529 5355