CMS and ONC Jointly Publish Strategy for Accelerating Health Information Exchange (HIE)

On August 7, 2013, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (“ONC”) published a strategy to “accelerate” interoperability of health information exchanges. CMS and ONC also hosted a webinar to explain the strategy (the “Strategy”). The Strategy was issued in a response to a Request for Information (RFI) about how to accelerate health information exchange (HIE) and interoperability, published March 7, 2013 in the Federal Register.
According to CMS/ONC, the Strategy was developed because existing incentive and certification programs for electronic health records are not considered to be enough to achieve the widespread interoperability desired. Further, CMS/ONC fear that the marketplace does not yet offer a strong enough business motivation across all providers and settings to encourage interoperability.  Based on more than 200 responses to the RFI, the Strategy was developed to set forth a set of principles for a comprehensive effort across agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) to further encourage and accelerate HIE. The principles are organized into three categories: (1) Accelerating HIE, (2) Advancing Standards and Interoperability, and (3) Consumer/Patient Engagement.
Under the first principle (Accelerating HIE), HHS will seek to ensure that all new regulations and guidance enable a patient’s health information to follow the patient wherever he or she accesses care. The goal with policy development will be to make HIE a standard business practice for all providers. This includes interoperability across governmental units, including the federal government, Medicaid, and state agencies.
Under the second principle (Advancing Standards and Interoperability), HHS will advance the development of standards among various organizations through a variety of policies and programs. The goal of HHS is to align standards for quality measurement and improvement across the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Also, HHS will accelerate alignment and implementation of electronic clinical quality measures, electronic decision support interventions, and electronic reporting mechanisms.
Under the third principle (Consumer/Patient Engagement), HHS will develop policies and programs to support appropriate patient access to their health information. The goal will be to make standardized data available to patients wherever possible.
For more information about electronic medical records, interoperability or health information exchange, contact Mark T. Morrell at or Susan Ziel at