Pa­tients could end up pay­ing for any data-shar­ing fees

Modern Healthcare - - Comment -

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.

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