Challenges Faced In Exchanging Health Data

According to the recent reports by the Office of Inspector General (OIG), several issues were faced by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2014. Among these, the meaningful and secure exchange and use of electronic health data was the most common one. In fact, the agency reviewed the common challenges faced last year into several divisions that included those related to web based EMR.

OIG reported that for using and exchanging health data, the health organizations required facing several challenges in 2014. These were related to the maintenance of EHR incentive programs, achieving interoperability of EHRs and web based EMR and also in keeping the health information secure. OIG also noted that although there were such big challenges, progress was also being made in terms of addressing the interoperability challenge.

According to the OIG report, “The Department has made great strides in developing a foundational health IT infrastructure by making inroads with EHR adoption, establishing privacy and security guidance and standards, and offering services to support health information exchanges (HIE) and interoperability. As of September 2014, 95 percent of eligible hospitals and CAHs and 92 percent of physicians and other eligible professionals have registered to participate in the EHR Incentive Programs, amounting to more than 500,000 eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and CAHs.”

It has been observed that more work needs to be done in addressing the issues related to the meaningful use, electronic health care data as well as the web based EMR. Also, healthcare privacy, security and prevention of fraudulent cases must also remain a top priority for the Department of Health and Human Services. It has been observed that around one-quarter of hospitals have policies regarding the use of copy-paste and if used improperly, this feature may eventually help in supporting a fraudulent bill for services that were never provided, which is a bit concerning. This can also add up to the issues related to the digitalizing of the patient data and the usage of web based EMR.

The OGI report also stated that “Given the magnitude of the investment in EHRs and other health IT programs, it will become increasingly important to demonstrate and measure the extent to which EHRs and health IT have actually achieved the Department’s goals, which include improved health care and lower costs.”

In short, it is observed that unless the existing issues get resolved, advancements in the healthcare sector related to the EHR and EMR systems may prove to be somewhat difficult.