NAHC Affiliate, Home Care Technology Association of America, Comments on ONC’s Interoperability Roadmap: Role of Home Health and Hospice Agencies to Achieve Interoperability
April 9, 2015 09:54 AM
The Home Care Technology Association of America (HCTAA), an affiliate of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), submitted comments to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) on its proposed “interoperability roadmap,” a comprehensive plan to support the interoperable exchange of health information across the continuum of providers, patients, and caregivers. ONC released a draft of the roadmap in January for public comments. In the draft roadmap—“Connecting Health and Care for the Nation: A Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap Draft Version 1.0.”—ONC aims to outline the standards and use cases for achieving nationwide interoperability.
The comments are part of HCTAA’s ongoing efforts to advance technology use and the coordination of longitudinal care on behalf of home care and hospice professionals, and specifically to assure ONC that home health and hospice agencies are vital to achieving interoperability and need better assistance to adopt electronic health records.
HCTAA’s Executive Director, Richard Brennan, submitted comments on behalf of HCTAA in a letter to Dr. Karen DeSalvo, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at the Department of Health and Human Services. In the letter, Brennan expressed concern that ONC, in its draft roadmap, does not adequately consider the vital role of home health care agencies and hospice providers. With over 33,000 home health and hospice agencies representing a significant component of the health care delivery system, Brennan makes the case that home health and hospice providers have a crucial role in achieving interoperability.
“In most cases, the delivery of quality home health care and hospice services is very dependent upon the collaboration and exchange of health information across the continuum of care with physician practices, hospitals and other long-term post-acute care (LTPAC) providers,” Brennan writes in the letter. “Therefore, we believe it is imperative that ONC consider home health care agencies and hospice providers as vital partners to obtain the overarching goal of interoperable health information exchange across the continuum of care.”
Brennan also states that it’s important to “establish sector specific goals – for both home health care and hospice providers – within the building blocks of the interoperability roadmap.” He says it is problematic that the report fails to even specifically mention home health or hospice providers. It is important, he says, to establish goals specifically for home health and hospice since “the delivery of home health care services is unique because it is the only setting that encompasses clinical professionals, the family caregiver and the patient in the care delivery process.”
LTPAC providers have lagged behind in the adoption of electronic health records because not all health care providers received monetary incentives to adopt and use certified electronic health records under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act Incentive Program. Brennan cites a report to Congress by the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in June 2013 that stated the need to address the discrepancy that has been created by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. He states there is a need to achieve a balanced use of certified electronic health record by LTPAC providers.
The comments are just the latest example of HCTAA’s efforts to convince ONC to recognize the importance of home health and hospice agencies in achieving interoperability. HCTAA has submitted recommendations to ONC on all three stages of the Meaningful Use program, including the Voluntary 2015 Edition Electronic Health Record (EHR) Certification program. It also joined commenters from the LTPAC HIT Collaborative on Draft Federal Health IT Strategic Plan.
You can read the full comments by clicking here.
About HCTAA: HCTAA was established in 2005 to amplify the voices of home care and hospice professionals and unify support for initiatives that encourage the advanced use of technologies in the delivery of care and to improve person-centric longitudinal care coordination in the home. HCTAA believes that home care and hospice providers properly equipped with advance technological solutions will serve a central role in the delivery of healthcare to individuals at home by ensuring quality, efficiency, and cost effective coordinated care.