On December 1, 2020, the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) Health IT sponsored a conference titled “Accelerating APIs in Healthcare: A Year in Review and Momentum for 2021”. The ONC develops the HealthIT policy and road map for the future of the United States. When developing the HealthIT road map, the leaders at ONC consider multiple stakeholders including Patients, Providers, Payers. Ultimately, Patients (US citizens/tax payers) benefit from the work of ONC. Providers is a broad term that includes Hospital Systems, Physician Specialists, Primary Care Providers (Pediatrics, Family Practice) as well as other Healthcare providers. Payers include Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance companies like BCBS and Aetna. While ONC develops and creates the future road map for HealthIT, it is up to various stakeholders within the Health IT community to understand and appropriately develop/enhance their applications to the future direction of Health IT.
The agenda for the conference can be found at https://www.healthit.gov/news/events/accelerating-apis-healthcare-year-review-and-momentum-2021 .
There was a policy launched by the ONC in 2020 (21st Century Cures Act) to make sharing information more open (prevent stakeholders from blocking the sharing of information). While the policy provides the environment/rules for open sharing, the Health IT community needs tools like APIs to share information. An application programming interface (API) is a way to share information with different HealthIT stakeholders. The Majority of Healthcare today is disconnected so information such as patient charts are shared via fax or mail or provided to offices by sending an electronic copy on a storage device. A requirement of payers in 2021 is to provide the ability for patients to download their claims information via a portal. APIs will allow for 3rd party apps to be leveraged by patients to view this information as well as enhance sharing between providers. There are a few standards to help with the API sharing such as a standard known as FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources).
The focus of the conference on December 1st was a review and deeper discussion of APIs with perspectives from 40 speakers during the conference. These speakers were from both government (CMS, CDC, FDA) and industry groups representing Technology companies (like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, Salesforce, Apple, consumer app companies), payers (commercial insurance companies as well as CAQH) as well as providers (leaders from large health systems and a leader from CVS Health)). The discussion of APIs in this conference is about how to further improve the sharing between providers to patients. Interesting that the technology section is titled “Health IT heads in the clouds” which indicates the massive movement of Health IT to the cloud. Overall, the ONC leadership did a great job on this event and involved both government and industry stakeholders to participate.
While there was much interesting content that provides an indication of the future of HealthIT and interoperability, the ultimate goal of the information sharing is to provide more cost – effective Healthcare. The US healthcare system is the most expensive in the world on a per capita basis. Many argue that while the US has the most expensive Healthcare system, the outcomes are not the best in the world so Healthcare is not cost-effective compared to other nations. Independent Pediatric practices overall provide cost-effective care and great value to their communities they serve.
A discussion point not touched on yesterday was the balance between providing Health IT and total cost of the Health IT. For instance, Healthcare Systems employee IT staff, host and maintain their IT infrastructure and have much higher IT and Revenue Cycle Management cost structure than most Pediatric Practices. Physician Xpress is dedicated to providing a high value, ONC certified, Pediatric E.H.R. and Revenue Cycle Management for Independent Pediatric practices to succeed. The PediatricXpress system by PhysicianXpress maintains connections to Lab Companies, Immunization Exchanges, Clinically Integrated Networks while maintaining billing performance above national averages and benchmarks. Additionally, the PediatricXpress system has an API ready for the changes as the market evolves. The physicianXpress team continues to enhance the HealthIT and Revenue cycle services without raising fees on Pediatric practices. The team at PhysicianXpress continues to focus on making Pediatric practices more profitable and easier to manage.