ONC adds two interoperability metrics under MACRA

Chris Nerney
Chris Nerney, Contributing Writer |

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) earlier this month announced two healthcare metrics in response to input solicited from the healthcare community regarding how to measure provider progress toward “widespread interoperability.”
The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) calls for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish metrics to assess how well the exchange and use of clinical information facilitates coordinated care and improves patient outcomes for providers in the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs.
In a blog post on ONC’s HeathIT.gov website, Seth Pazinski , director of Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Analysis , and Talisha Searcy, director of Research and Evaluation, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Analysis, write that ONC has identified two measures that address the feedback from the healthcare community and MACRA parameters:
Measure #1: Proportion of healthcare providers who are electronically engaging in the following core domains of interoperable exchange of health information: sending; receiving; finding (querying); and integrating information received from outside sources.
Measure #2: Proportion of healthcare providers who report using the information they electronically receive from outside providers and sources for clinical decision-making.
“Importantly,” the co-authors write, “these measures do not add to providers’ reporting burden as part of their participation in federal health care programs like Medicare or Medicaid, but rather come from existing national surveys of hospitals and office-based physicians.”
ONC’s Request for Information generated nearly 100 comments from across the healthcare and health information technology landscape. Pazinski and Searcy said commenters were particularly concerned that MACRA measurement requirements would:
·      Not create “significant additional reporting burdens for clinicians and other healthcare providers”
·      Broaden measurement scope to include patients and providers not eligible for Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs
·      Identify measures that go beyond health information exchange to include “the usage and usefulness of the information that is exchanged as well as the impact of exchange on health outcomes”
·      Recognize that multiple data sources are needed to accurately measure interoperability and that the process of determining the most accurate metrics is ongoing
You can read the comments submitted to ONC about assessing interoperability under MACRA here.