In July 2021, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) hosted its second HL7® FHIR® Connectathon, welcoming over 800 participants from Federal agencies, payer organizations, and the health IT industry to a three-day event with more than 70 presentations focusing on education, implementation guide testing, and community-building around Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR)-based application programming interfaces (APIs).
Federal health agencies have entered an era where data interoperability-enabled solutions play a critical role. Government leaders can harness the innovative and proven capabilities referenced in this article to deliver on their essential missions.
In 2020, two major events laid the foundation for this era of interoperability.
Pandemic Response: The first was the coronavirus pandemic, which led to unprecedented needs for health data in support of agency missions. Since its start, decision-makers have required more access to and insights from these data (e.g., clinical records, administrative claims, patient experience) than ever before.
Interoperability Rules: The second was the finalization of the ONC and CMS-led 21st Century Cures Act interoperability rules. These mandates substantially expanded agencies’ ability to leverage health data solutions (e.g., algorithms, applications, and automation) at scale.
Those of us who have been in healthcare a long time know that prior authorization can been a challenge for both payers, providers, and patients. One might think it’s time to remove prior authorization altogether, but until we have consistent clinical practice across the entire US healthcare system, it’s very hard to justify.
The current processes create a huge burden for providers and payers, and cause delays – sometimes critical – in patient care.
Why is prior authorization such a thorny problem[i]?
- Prior authorization issues contribute to 92% of care delays
- Nearly all of provider care delays are associated with inefficiencies and administrative issues with current prior authorization
- Providers take 6 hours on average to complete these requests, which is the equivalent of two business days. Thirty-four percent of providers have staff dedicated exclusively to completing prior authorizations.
- The prior authorization process costs $23 to $31 billion per year in the US, according to a 2009 study published in Health Affairs.
- The health plan cost per manual prior authorization is $3.68, compared to $0.04 per electronic prior authorization, according to a 2017 Chilmark Research report.
Whether Attendees are Novices or Experts on Implementation Guides, Education Will Increase Knowledge and Build Community
Communicating the value of HL7’s Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource (FHIR®) in healthcare isn’t always easy. Do you tell the story in purely technical terms? Describe the problems it’s intended to solve? Or offer examples of where it’s providing benefits?
The upcoming Da Vinci Education & HL7 FHIR Implementation Event addresses all of those questions for a variety of audiences.
The presenters at the virtual event, scheduled for the week of April 26 to 30, will explain the sense of urgency that underscores the need to accelerate adoption of FHIR-based use cases. They will also provide real-world context to show that these use cases are not just a theoretical construct, but are providing immediate benefits to those organizations that are using it to power the shift to value-based care.
The adoption of FHIR is picking up speed because of this growing recognition of its benefits in reducing clinician burden, improving the exchange of quality measure data and enabling real-time access to data by patients, providers and payers. The adoption of FHIR-based use cases also provides a way for organizations to meet federal rules governing interoperability and patient access to their medical information.
Program Showcases Individuals Making Significant Contributions to Advancing Implementation Guide Use
Initiatives such as the Da Vinci Project make strides toward interoperability as organizations adopt the vision and push it forward to reality
To achieve the progress the HL7 Da Vinci Project has made to date, it relies on the extraordinary efforts of individuals who consistently work to advance the organization’s goals. This might entail stepping forward to lead a work group of peers, spending extra hours editing and reviewing work in progress workflows, recruiting business partners to test early versions as early adopters, or scouring their organization to find the right subject matter expert for a particular business challenge or question, all to ensure that early HL7 Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR®) implementation guides work.
These team members exemplify the spirit and intent of our collaborative industry-first Da Vinci efforts, said Jocelyn Keegan, program manager for the Da Vinci Project. “The work of Da Vinci is, at its core, a human powered effort,” she noted. “It is imperative that we publicly acknowledge the contributions of the smart, dedicated thought leaders who are redefining how payers and providers collaborate.”
To recognize individuals who are taking a lead role in working to make the outputs of Da Vinci real, the project has named six leaders as the initial class of the Da Vinci Community Champion program for their contributions in 2020.
With the ascent of value-based care, interoperability is expected to evolve at an even faster pace to meet the business demands that new reimbursement incentives are producing.
Monthly Event is Scheduled for 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 24, 2021
Advancing the use of HL7’s Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR®) takes both strong proponents advocating for the cause and pioneering organizations that lead the industry by putting concepts into practice.
Both aspects important to FHIR adoption will be on display at the March Community Roundtable of the Da Vinci Project, scheduled for Wednesday, March 24, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. ET. The roundtable has become a staple of the Da Vinci Project’s efforts to highlight successful deployments of its implementation guides, intended to help healthcare organizations manage value-based care initiatives.
MiHIN Shares Lessons Learned with Plan-Net
An example of a real-world implementation will be provided by the Michigan Health Information Network (MiHIN). A team from the organization will share lessons learned from its deployment of Plan-Net, the Payer Data Exchange (PDex)-Plan Network Directory Implementation Guide that focuses on Payer-Provider Directories. FHIR offers the potential to automate this typically manually intensive process for all parties, and MiHIN will describe its journey to putting the implementation guide into place to achieve this.
Health Level Seven® (HL7®) International recently announced the appointment of three new members to the HL7 board of directors to serve a two-year term: Lori Evans Bernstein, MPH, co-founder and president, HealthReveal; Karen DeSalvo, M.D., MPH, chief health officer, Google Health; and Carolyn Petersen, MS, MBI, FAMIA, senior editor, Mayo Clinic.
“These leaders represent a broad spectrum of global stakeholders who are committed to advancing health through information technology. We are delighted to welcome them to the HL7 board of directors,” said Charles Jaffe, M.D., Ph.D., CEO of HL7. “Their strategic expertise and diverse experience will contribute greatly to HL7’s goal of improving the quality of care and reducing costs by overcoming the barriers to interoperability.”
Project Achieves a Tipping Point as Adoption Begins in Earnest to Meet Upcoming and Proposed Federal Regulation and Solve Interoperability Challenges
The Da Vinci Project made significant progress in 2020 in advancing the maturity of implementation guides, and now looks to increasingly demonstrate the value of its implementation guides (IGs) across production implementations this year.
Members of the HL7 FHIR® Accelerator group helped push forward work on several implementation guides that were published in 2020, but further refinement lies ahead, said project managers who presented a progress report on the Da Vinci Project at its January Community Roundtable.
In addition to the update on progress with publishing new standards, the presentation offered members a tour of the Da Vinci Project’s enhanced Confluence website, as well as an invitation for more organizations to consider membership to help ensure implementation guides meet the needs of the entire healthcare community.
This year, there will be a growing need to use the HL7 Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR®) standard, as application programming interfaces (APIs) emerge to meet federal information exchange requirements and business needs of value-based care.
The CDA Management Group (CMG) aims to use the next C-CDA Implementation-A-Thon (IAT) to expand outreach to engage new communities and increase the impact of this content improvement effort. “We learned so much last year about how to maximize the value of implementer-led implementation-a-thons,” said CMG Co-Chair Lisa Nelson. “The new approach was a step in the right direction. It helped implementers drive the conversation and focus the community on making changes that would yield valuable improvements,” she explained.
Primary author: John D'Amore, Co-Founder, Diameter Health; Co-authors: Brett Marquard, Principal, Wave One Associates and Wayne Kubick, CTO, HL7 International
While HL7 FHIR® (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) is today’s hottest healthcare standard, clinical documents are already exchanged in the billions today. HL7 published the Consolidated Clinical Document Architecture (C-CDA) in 2011 to support care coordination and patient engagement. The ONC 2014 certification rule named C-CDA R1.1 and adoption exploded. The current version of C-CDA, R2.1, remains backwards compatible to that version today. While C-CDA is a flexible, robust standard to record patient care longitudinally or for an encounter, it is structurally complex. The C-CDA standard itself is over 1,000 pages long. Applying the standard to the latest US requirements for clinical data exchange, known as the US Core Data for Interoperability, also routinely requires information from the C-CDA Companion Guide.
HL7 publishes the C-CDA standard and its Companion Guide as PDF documents. That will remain the official version of the standard, but a small team from the CDA Management and Structured Documents Working Groups saw an opportunity to make the C-CDA content easier to use by developing a new web tool. Since the C-CDA has reusable parts, known as “templates,” it seemed logical to make each template searchable and distinct via unique web pages so the standard would be much easier to absorb.
The new HL7 C-CDA Online Search Tool is a searchable, web-based navigation resource for the Consolidated Clinical Document Architecture (C-CDA 2.1) and its Companion Guide. The solution includes over 240 unique web pages that make each template accessible on the web with linkage back to the original PDF content. This navigation is managed through a single searchable index page, like a smart table of contents.
Using the template webpages, health IT vendors can ensure that their C-CDAs are conformant and high-quality for document exchange. The search tool enables users to search the C-CDA by description, template object identifier (OID) or conformance number. Conformance number searches are particularly valuable for C-CDA implementers, since validators will return these numbers when there’s a violation or warning associated with C-CDA testing.