Home Health Part of HHS Initiative to Drive Health Information Exchange

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently launched an initiative meant to accelerate health information exchange (HIE) across acute and post-acute care settings, including home health. 

On August 7, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) held a webinar on the topic and also released a paper on the principles and strategy for accelerating HIE. The paper outlines ONC’s existing policies regarding HIE and also includes feedback from a request for information issued in March 2013, which garnered more than 200 responses.

Comments included encouraging the widespread use of HHS-adopted health information technology standards to advance interoperability and electronic HIE across healthcare systems, from hospitals to home health agencies.  

“HHS believes all patients, their families, and providers should expect to have consistent and timely access to standardized health information that can be securely shared between primary care providers, specialists, hospitals, mental health and substance abuse services, LTPAC, home and community-based services, other support and enabling services providers, care and case managers and coordinators, and other authorized individuals and institutions,” said the agency in the paper. 

The majority of commenters who indicated support for regulation and/or revised conditions of participation for HIE said it would be most appropriate for skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes, and home health agencies. 

CMS is taking several steps to accelerate HIE, including its Health Care Innovation Awards, the CMS State Innovation Model Initiative, and the 2014 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. 

Health care reform will also prompt incremental steps to accelerate HIE in Affordable Care Act delivery reform programs and Medicare and Medicaid payment. 

“The program-specific changes to accelerate HIE would be intended to result in expanded patient access to their health information, as well as routine sharing of health information between multiple stakeholders, such as: hospitals and physicians; primary care physicians and specialists; and hospitals and nursing homes, home health providers, and other post-acute care and community-based providers,” says the paper.

Learn more by reading the policy paper or viewing the webinar. 

Written by Alyssa Gerace

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