Congress set its sights on achieving the widespread exchange of health information through interoperable-certified electronic health records (“EHR”) by declaring it a national objective in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (“MACRA”). To accomplish this goal, MACRA directs the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) to establish metrics in consultation with the health information technology (“health IT”) community. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (“ONC”), the division of HHS responsible for advancing connectivity and interoperability of health IT, has issued a request for information (“RFI”) seeking input on how to measure “interoperability.” Interoperability refers to the ability of systems to exchange and use electronic health information from other systems.

The RFI presents an opportunity for stakeholders and the public to weigh in on how policy makers understand interoperability. Congress and HHS likely will make both policy and funding decisions based on the goals and measurements that are established in response to feedback received through the RFI. Specifically, ONC seeks advice regarding the following:

  1. What populations and elements of information flow should HHS measure?
  2. How can HHS use current data sources and associated metrics to address the MACRA requirements?
  3. What other data sources and metrics should HHS consider to measure interoperability more broadly?

The public comment period closes on June 3, 2016. Take a look at the RFI here for more specific questions.