Conference Highlights Growing Support for Standardized US EHR

health, healthcare database, EHR, electronic health records

The move towards an interoperable national database of electronic health records (EHR) is advancing, as the public-private initiative is seeing large players step up to take part.

As the 2022 annual conference of trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) from got underway June 21-23, EHR giant Epic announced plans to become a Qualified Health Information Network (QHIN), helping form the backbone of the envisioned EHR network-of-networks.

It’s an end-to-end connected healthcare play, as the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA) initiative is coordinated by The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), with nonprofit The Sequoia Project named as Recognized Coordinating Entity (RCE) for TEFCA.

TEFCA dovetails with efforts that took wing during the pandemic to radically modernize the disparate health information system in the United States and elsewhere that evolved as disconnected silos, making emergency treatment and other interventions fraught for lack of readily available health data on people who may not be able to communicate health conditions.

In a June 20 press release, Epic said it is joining the “health information exchange framework to improve health data interoperability across the country. The Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA) will bring information networks together to help ensure that all people benefit from complete, longitudinal health records wherever they receive care. In the future, TEFCA will expand to support use cases beyond clinical care, such as public health.”

Dave Fuhrmann, senior vice president of interoperability at Epic said, “Our fundamental goal is to help all patients receive informed, personalized care — regardless of where they go to receive it. Our customers have led the way with large-scale interoperability through Carequality, and we’re happy to help with the next stage in the evolution of interoperability.”

The national EHR interoperability project is in early stages, and Epic said it is applying as a Qualified Health Information Network (QHIN) later in 2022 when applications open this fall.

See also: Walmart Health Teams with Epic on Patient Records Portal

A New Connected Healthcare Roadmap

AHIP got the ball rolling in earnest in the second quarter, announcing its ‘Healthier People Through Healthier Markets’ initiative, which the group calls its “new policy roadmap and set of solutions to improve health care affordability and access for every American. The effort is focused on boosting competition in health care markets and reining in harmful practices that hurt American families.”

AHIP’s brief on its 10-point ‘Healthier People Through Healthier Markets’ roadmap can be found here. Payments made the cut, with AHIP calling for “site-neutral payments to defend consumers against having to pay more for the same services depending on the site of care.”

A greatly expanded role for telehealth is also on AHIP’s proposed modernization roadmap.

In his opening remarks for the conference, AHIP President and CEO Matt Eyles noted it had been three years since the last time members physically gathered for the big event.

Sharing a connected vision for the sector, he said: “Our health care experience has been — and continues to be — reshaped and reconfigured to fit the digital world and the physical world. We don’t always know where one ends and the other begins now. Virtual care may even be incorporated into a physical care setting when you are meeting face-to-face with your physician.

“This connectivity is critical to our overall health and wellbeing, and it is growing by leaps and bounds,” Eyles said.

See also: Electronic Health Records at the Heart of Public-Private Digital Identity Push