Patients could end up paying for any data-sharing fees
Regarding the article “Athenahealth asks the OIG to permit a market for health data” (ModernHealthcare.com, Oct. 30), this is a very interesting concept. In my opinion, if you allow physicians to charge each other to obtain patients’ clinical record data, the physicians/healthcare systems will just pass that fee along to the patient and might even mark it up to make some margin on it. As I understand it, one of the ways the CMS has tried to promote interoperability is by requiring EHR vendors to be able to send/receive patient records via registered “secure message hubs.” These enable the secure passing of the primary components of the patient’s clinical records.
Unfortunately, it seems that the use of the secure message hubs is minimal. Hospitals and health systems have found loopholes to avoid connecting to the registered hubs. They simply created their own closed-network health information exchanges to pass information within their own networks. There are technical and financial barriers that prevent stand-alone, communitybased physician practices that are not affiliated with the hospital from connecting to these “closed” HIEs.
The CMS should consider creating one central secure hub (like they did for e-prescribing) for sharing clinical records. This theoretically could solve the problem of interoperability.
Craig McMahon Springfield, Mo.