CORHIO Exec. Director Calls on ONC to Address Barriers to HIE

Date: August 20th, 2014Category: CORHIO e-NewsletterTopics: HIE, EHRs

Morgan Honea testifies at ONC listening session about the industry’s slower than anticipated progress on HIE and interoperability.

On August 15th, Honea testified on behalf of CORHIO at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s (ONC) HIT Policy Committee on Interoperability and Health Information Exchange (HIE) Workgroup. Honea participated as part of a panel and addressed the committee’s questions on factors that have limited the exchange of health information on a national level. CORHIO was the only HIE organization that participated in the panel discussion.

During the hearing, Honea suggested that the ONC consider monitoring for-profit EHR vendors because some appear to be employing tactics that intentionally slow the growth of HIE as part of their overall business strategy. For example, inflated costs for HIE interfaces charged by EHR vendors have resulted in slower adoption of HIE.

Honea said in his testimony, “The costs incurred by physician practices to develop exchange interfaces is a tremendous barrier [to health information exchange]. In Colorado, we commonly hear from providers in small practices that their EHR vendors are quoting fees of more than $10,000 to build a connection to an HIE. For small and medium-sized provider practices, the up-front and recurring costs charged by EHR vendors for HIE interfaces is one of the most significant barriers to participation.”

Honea also commented that “Policy ambiguities around behavioral health and substance abuse data exchange have created fear of liability and litigation,” which have discouraged some providers from participating in HIE.

Although Honea cited several areas for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and ONC to monitor and provide additional guidance on, he also suggested that federal agencies allow states autonomy for developing local solutions. He said, “The State of Colorado has done a phenomenal job developing local health care and health technology solutions that work toward achieving national goals. This was possible, in part, because federal agencies have provided the necessary direction and funding that has allowed Colorado to develop the type of local programs that ensure success within our own communities.”

The ONC policy hearing was open to the public. The audio recording is available at