At both the federal and state levels, government policies that affect healthcare and health information technology (health IT) are in flux. Changing government policies may affect the way we do our jobs, the way our organizations are managed, how physicians practice medicine, how we use technology, and how we work together to improve the health of our communities.
To best serve our health information exchange (HIE) participants and stakeholders, and to be a strong advocate for cost-effective, reliable health IT that improves healthcare quality and reduces overall healthcare costs, CORHIO monitors the policy and regulatory environment at the federal and state levels.
In healthcare, information blocking refers to imposed limits to the electronic transmission of patient information between hospitals, physician offices, and other healthcare providers when the information is needed to deliver safe, effective patient care. Information blocking can occur in many ways and information rarely gets blocked outright. Instead, persons, providers, or technology vendors – such as electronic health record (EHR) vendors – employ tactics to intentionally make information sharing difficult or undesirable.
The U.S. Congress, through the Senate's HELP committee, has been investigating the issue and soliciting ideas for how to discourage information blocking and encourage responsible information exchange. Learn more about information blocking here.
EHR Incentives and Meaningful Use
In 2009, the American Reinvestment & Recovery Act (ARRA) was enacted and included many measures to modernize our nation's infrastructure, one of which is the "Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act." From the HITECH Act, the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs were established, which allow hospitals and providers to earn incentive payments for “meaningfully" using their electronic systems.
Over the past five years, the incentive programs have spurred widespread adoption of EHRs. Many hospitals and providers have reached Stage 1 of Meaningful Use and some have reached Stage 2. The final stage of Meaningful Use is Stage 3, for which only proposed rules are currently available. Learn more about the EHR Incentive Programs and Meaningful Use here.
Protecting individuals’ rights to privacy of their health information is very important, not only because it is protected under federal laws, but because it's the right thing to do. HIE organizations are responsible for HIPAA and HITECH compliance, just like providers.
Furthermore, federal rules about special protection of substance abuse information affect how HIEs like CORHIO transmit data. We work individually with providers to ensure that applicable laws are followed, while at the same time encourage responsible data sharing so that patients have the opportunity to receive high-quality, integrated care.
As health information exchange has expanded in recent years, it has become more apparent in Colorado – and nationally – that provider organizations interpret HIPAA and substance abuse confidentiality regulations differently. In some cases, this may be unnecessarily limiting data exchange and patients’ opportunities to receive high-quality, well-coordinated care. We actively collaborate with providers and advocate for ways to reduce confusion and misinterpretation of laws.
Colorado Health IT Advocacy Day
CORHIO is proud to support the Colorado chapter of HIMSS (CHIMSS) in the annual Health IT Advocacy Day. Health IT Advocacy Day helps policymakers better understand technology’s role in improving quality and reducing costs across the healthcare system, and how state and federal programs impact health technology. Learn more and get involved by visiting the CHIMSS website.
Questions and Information
If you have questions about our policy and advocacy initiatives, please contact our Director of State and Federal Initiatives, Kate Horle, at (720) 285-3269 or email@example.com.