White House holds event to tackle EHR interoperability

Electronic health record (EHR) interoperability was the focus of a White House meeting in December, hosted by Jared Kushner (Senior Advisor to President Donald J. Trump and Director of the White House Office of American Innovation) and Seema Verma (Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, CMS). Interoperability is the electronic sharing of patient information between different EHR systems and healthcare providers, improving independent physicians’ ability to effectively coordinate care for their patients.

The meeting on interoperability included several health information technology (IT) experts from across the US, as well as members of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) North America Board of Directors. A group discussion on potential action steps for the government to take regarding EHR interoperability was followed by a number of breakout sessions that addressed more specific topics.

According to the HIMSS, those working session topics included:

  • Government’s role: This session focused on a discussion of possible actions the government can take toward encouraging interoperability as well as a realistic timeframe for achieving interoperability goals.
  • Technical standards and authentication: The question of what would be needed for full industry support was discussed in this session. Questions included how to verify identities for safety and security around protected patient information.
  • Patient and physician engagement: This session focused on solutions to encourage participation among physicians and patients.
  • Public/private partnership: A discussion around how to encourage private sector innovation was the focus of this session, including how the government can jump-start such efforts.

HIMSS states that it “intends to continue to reach out to CMS, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), and other government agencies, to share its thought leadership on interoperability and emphasize the points in the HIMSS Call to Action: Achieve Nationwide, Ubiquitous, Secure Electronic Exchange of Health Information. The White House has indicated that it also intends to follow up the December meeting with a plan for next steps.