Focus on interoperability for health data systems has increased recently given multiple proposed Department of Health and Human Services’ regulations addressing how health data is shared. Healthcare providers are a primary source of health data and should be aware of how to prepare for these new regulations. While each hospital has its unique approach to managing its health data and sharing of that information, there are actions all hospitals can take to prepare for heightened expectations for health data interoperability.

1.     Connect business and policy conversations in the hospital

It’s important that all impacted departments work with the  Government Affairs team so that they can represent the potential impact of regulations comprehensively in external discussions.

2.     Plan jointly with IT and Health Information Management to be prepared for any changes

Forward-thinking health systems will recognize the interdependent relationship between HIM and IT and proactively plan for how systems may change and how that may affect user processes.

3.     Map existing sources of patient data and revisit document retention policy

Make sure you know where your health data records are stored and develop a process for how to access and release the data in a timely manner.

4.     Ensure compliance has processes in place to account for both state and federal regulations

Compliance departments need to be prepared to advise frontline workers, implement new procedures, incorporate regulatory preparations in technology, and ensure vendors’ plans are aligned with changing regulations.

5.     Consider your privacy policy and the potential need to address non-healthcare related usage

Hospitals will need to educate patients to make, so patients are aware of when their healthcare data is protected – and when it isn’t.

Hospitals who act now and are proactive about planning for interoperability will benefit not only from being better able to comply with the proposed regulations once they are finalized but also from being able to better address patient needs in a changing environment for healthcare data privacy. Taking these steps is critical even if the proposed rules aren’t implemented – to enable data sharing for research, development of treatments and other applications and, ultimately, to improve the quality of care for patients.

Read the full article in Healthcare IT Today.

Download Ciox’s Guide to the 21st Century Cures Act: Interoperability, Information Blocking, and the ONC Health IT Certification Program.

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