Just weeks after the ACC was in Las Vegas for the 2016 Cardiovascular Summit, thousands of health information technology (IT) experts came together in the same city for the 2016 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Conference (HIMSS16). The conference focused on how technology is being used to improve health and was a stage for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other government agencies to announce policies that will shape the future of health IT.
At HIMSS16, the ACC took part in the HIMSS Interoperability Showcase, an area dedicated to innovations in interoperability. The ACC has been a longtime advocate for interoperability, which describes how effectively clinical data can move between different participants, both human and technological, in the care delivery chain. The College was able to highlight its work in this space – from Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise efforts to using NCDR registries to enable interoperability – during presentations by ACC members and staff in the Interoperability Showcase.
HIMSS.16 was also an opportunity to unveil how the ACC is integrating the ASCVD Risk Estimator mobile app into an electronic health record (EHR) using Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource (FHIR). As clinicians, we expend many hours documenting patient visits in our EHR system. However, to access a clinical app we often use a smart phone or tablet. Integrating ACC clinical apps into EHR systems will enhance current workflows and documentation by making these tools available to clinicians at the point of care.
To ensure a successful integration and decrease disruption at the point of care, the ACC is using FHIR, an Application Programming Interface for exchanging health data. FHIR Specification is a standard that advances the capability of clinical apps by requesting specific patient data from the patient’s electronic chart to be inserted into the risk tool.
The ASCVD Risk Estimator app is currently integrated into Epic and Athena Health. The ACC hopes to work with other EHR vendors to integrate the app into their systems. There are also plans to implement FHIR interfaces to integrate other ACC tools and services, such as assessment of CHA2DS2-VASc and HAS-BLED scores in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation and risk of inpatient mortality in patients undergoing transaortic valve replacement. Additionally, the ACC will work to prototype FHIR integration with NCDR risk scores.
Shifting gears to health IT policy, several announcements made at HIMSS16 are noteworthy for the future of EHRs. HHS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released the “ONC Health IT Certification Program: Enhanced Oversight and Accountability” proposed rule during the conference. According to the agencies, the proposal to update the ONC Health IT Certification Program based on current EHR trends “would further enhance the safety, reliability, transparency, and accountability of certified health IT for users.” The proposed rule – which focuses on direct review, enhanced oversight and greater accountability and transparency – would give ONC the authority to revoke an EHR’s certification for safety reasons, including those stemming from usability and security issues. Also during HIMSS16, HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced that most EHR vendors, the five largest health care systems in the U.S., and numerous other stakeholders have taken a pledge to improve health IT for patients. These groups will work together to stop the practice of “information blocking,” implement a universal language, and enhance EHRs to ensure patients can access their information.
It’s surely an exciting time for health IT and HIMSS16 energized the health care community to continue using technology in innovative ways to improve health.