Hospices Focus on EHR Interoperability to Prep for Value-Based Care

Electronic health record (EHR) interoperability is becoming a priority for hospice providers as they prepare for value-based care programs coming in 2021 such as the Primary Cares Serious Illness Population Model. The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) requires health care organizations that participate in the model to use certified EHR technology (CEHRT).

CEHRT are IT products that comply with criteria established by CMS for certain programs, such as the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System. The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) maintains the standards, which exist in multiple editions. Providers would have to comply with the 2015 edition for Primary Care First.

”The importance of interoperability is the operational efficiency gains that are cemented, allowing agencies to properly scale so they’re allowed to provide the care that’s necessary for patients,” said Chip Sloan, vice president of strategic partnerships for Homecare Homebase. “The specialization of particular types of software for the various pieces of functionality that are necessary now in a complex health care delivery system require that certain types of data be exchanged in order for the agency’s systems to actually work properly.” 


Homecare Homebase recently entered a partnership with eMDs to offer the Aprima 2015 Certified EHR solution to HCHB customers interested in programs that require an ONC-Certified EHR. Systems such as these are designed to improve efficiency, support seamless transitions of care and to meet federal certification requirements.

Definitions of interoperability can vary, but the term most often refers to the ability of different IT systems and software applications to communicate, exchange data and use the information that has been exchanged.

CMS and ONC developed the interoperability rules pursuant to provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act, passed by Congress in 2016. This requires public and private organizations to share health information between patients and other parties while ensuring the privacy and security of those data.


CMS applied the ONC certification stipulation because the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 requires CEHRT for any advanced alternative payment model. Interoperable technology is designed in part to improve care coordination, which is a key tenet of Primary Care First.

“With integration all the data that is needed is transferred electronically; this can allow, among other things, the agency that receives the referral to more quickly respond and start treatment, which at the end of the day results in better patient outcomes,” Sloan told Hospice News.

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