Interoperability pressured

Congress is getting more involved in healthcare interoperability. Lawmakers have proposed legislation calling for changes to the process in order to speed up and broaden provider inclusion by the end of 2018. 

If passed, long-term care providers would face greater pressure to upgrade their information technology in order to participate in the movement.

The Ensuring Interoperability of Qualified Health Records measure introduced in March by Rep. Mike Burgess (R-TX) is intended to enhance nationwide progress toward interoperability, including establishing a 12-member advisory committee to replace the Health IT Policy and Standards Committees established after passage of the HITECH Act of 2009.

The new advisory panel named in the bill would recommend standards for measuring interoperability by July 2016, the same year HHS is mandated to outline which barriers exist to interoperability. It also would furnish a list of specific violators by 2018.

Congressional action comes after five senators publicly criticized the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT for a lack of progress in achieving interoperability across healthcare. A statement issued by the senators to the ONC expressed impatience with healthcare leaders, who “have told us time and again that interoperability is necessary to achieve the promise of a more efficient health system.

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