ME: Interoperability is important, but doctors are frustrated with the slow progress. Will doctors ever see the day when all their EHRs can “talk” to one another and will it deliver on its promises?
JA: True interoperability will be difficult to achieve unless the industry embraces well-defined standards. That being said, we are getting closer, thanks to the wider use and acceptance of FHIR, CDA and other standard terminologies. However, we must remember that “talking” is just noise unless both parties are able to hear and interpret what is being said.
Having the technical ability to send data between systems is only the first step. Next, we need to format the data so that it is easy for recipients to “hear,” interpret, and apply to the correct patient. At a minimum, the data must be coded to a usable standard so it is more easily assimilated to existing information and made actionable at the point of care. Also, when creating new data through the documentation process, physicians need tools that facilitate the capture of high-quality data in structured formats are easily exchanged and interpreted with minimal manual intervention.
ME: With the current state of technology and interoperability, what are some ways physicians can obtain the data they need to successfully participate in value-based care programs, such as the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS)?
JA: Physicians participating in value-based programs such as MIPS must track and report on clinical quality measures (CQMs) in order to achieve financial bonuses and avoid penalties. Most of the 271 possible CQMs in MIPS require clinical decisions that are best made at the point of care.
In order to comply with MIPS quality reporting without sacrificing physician productivity, practices need to incorporate clinical decision-support tools within their EHRs. The tools should support the integration of CQMs and be readily available at the point of care and within physician workflows. They should work behind the scenes and automatically monitor quality compliance, identify which CQM requirements are being met, and advise the clinician of potential care gaps. By leveraging such technology, physicians can take immediate action at the point of care and ensure successfully participation in quality-reporting programs.