Consumer Coalitions Comment on Federal Data Exchange Efforts

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The Campaign for Better Care and the Consumer Partnership for eHealth have submitted joint comments responding to a request for information on how the federal government could advance interoperability and health data exchange efforts, Health Data Management reports.

Together, the two coalitions represent more than 150 consumer and patient advocacy groups (Goedert, Health Data Management, 5/2).

Background

In March, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT and CMS announced the release of a request for information about how the two agencies can use policy mechanisms to further drive health data exchange to "support more person-centered, coordinated, value-driven care."

The deadline for comments was April 21 (iHealthBeat, 4/29).

Main Recommendations

In their joint letter, the coalitions recommended that the federal government accelerate health data exchange by further leveraging the Direct Project, which is a federally developed initiative to facilitate the online, standards-based exchange of medical data between health care providers.

The letter stated that CMS should "map National Provider Identifier numbers to providers' Direct email addresses and produce a directory to more seamlessly enable secure provider-to-provider communication" (Campaign for Better Care/Consumer Partnership for eHealth letter, 4/22).

The coalitions also suggested that federal agencies consider offering Direct email addresses to patients, family and designated caregivers to boost secure communication between patients and providers.

Additional Recommendations

The coalitions also called for:

  • Data registries to interface with data from other sources, such as electronic health records;
  • Evaluations of programs that test new payment and care delivery models to consider provider performance on quality measures related to data exchange and care coordination; and
  • Medicare to promote the use of Blue Button technology, which lets beneficiaries download their claims data (Health Data Management, 5/2).

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