AHIMA, AMIA, EHRA call for consensus on electronic health information

Three major healthcare informatics organizations this week published a new study designed to help guide the conversation around how electronic health information should be managed and put to use by healthcare providers and technology developers.

The American Health Information Management Association, the American Medical Informatics Association and the HIMSS Electronic Health Record Association on Monday put out a report, Defining EHI and the Designated Record Set in an Electronic World (PDF), which focuses on  issues around operationalization of the definitions of electronic health information and designated record set.

Such an effort is key to success for the 21st Century Cures Act Final Rule, whose requirements around information blocking and health IT certification rely on the definition of EHI – itself grounded in the definition of the designated record set as defined by HIPAA.

“How these definitions will be operationalized by clinicians and developers are critical to successful compliance with the Cures Act Final Rule,” said the groups in unveiling the new report, which sees several challenges for healthcare stakeholders must grapple with.

“Our analysis demonstrates the complexity associated with defining EHI for multipurpose use, such as in ONC’s certification program and compliance with information blocking,” said AHIMA, AMIA and EHRA in the new report.

“Whether a data class is considered EHI may depend on certain status conditions or characteristics. Other data classes might merit special consideration, such as behavioral health information. Throughout this process, Task Force members have agreed that what data classes are considered EHI will continue to evolve over time. However, we firmly believe that standardizing clinician and developer expectations around the definition of EHI will be critically important to successful operationalization of the Cures Act Final Rule.”

Read the full report in more detail here.

In 2020, the three groups first launched a task force to put together recommendations for a consensus-based approach to operationalizing the definition of EHI.

Setting clear expectations around what EHI is and isn’t, they said, will help providers, certified IT developers, HIEs and networks better complying with the Cures Act Final Rule, which has some key compliance dates looming:

  • Healthcare organizations will be expected to adhere to the full scope of EHI for purposes of compliance with Cures Act info blocking provisions starting October 6, 2022.
  • Certification to the EHI export criterion – the process of electronic health records exporting EHI they’re storing – is expected by December 31, 2023.

The task force is seeking feedback on these findings in the new report ahead of those dates. Its work will continue in the months ahead, including “further exploration of whether common characteristics across covered entities could yield a common interpretation of the designated record set that can serve as a template to improve consistency.”

“This preliminary report is a call to action for healthcare leaders to come together and advance a consensus-based approach to operationalizing the definition of EHI,” said Lauren Riplinger, AHIMA’s vice president of policy and government affairs, in a statement.

“It was clear from the outset that the fluid nature of the scope of EHI presents us a unique informatics challenge,” said Dr. Joseph Kannry, chair of AMIA’s Public Policy Committee. “We look forward to working further with our cross-stakeholder partners to try to ensure that we’re ready to meet these challenges head-on so our patients will ultimately benefit.”

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: mike.miliard@himssmedia.com

Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS publication.

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