When patient data is complete, secure and accessible, everyone wins. Patients want access to their personal health records, and they want to make it easy for any relevant party within the continuum of care to access that information as well.

According to a Transcend Insights digital health survey, 97 percent of patients believe it’s important for any health organization, at any location, to have access to their full medical record. Those surveyed also ranked a provider’s ability to easily share information as the most important factor of receiving personalized care.

Plus, secure information exchange is becoming more of a compliance priority as the new policies of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) build on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Information exchange and MACRA

Under MACRA, secure information exchange becomes more than a matter of compliance. In 2017, improvement activities – which may include bolstering your practice’s ability to communicate data to other providers, payers and state registries – account for 15 percent of effective payment adjustments under the merit-based incentive payment system.

“97% of patients want their information accessible from any provider.”

In other words, improving your practice’s ability to securely exchange data with key stakeholders could increase reimbursement amounts from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS).

For example, the improvement activity “Care transition documentation practice improvements” requires eligible groups to submit a patient-centered action plan during the 30 days following a discharge. Doing so, counts as a step toward MACRA compliance, will likely improve patient outcomes and satisfaction as well as assists in transition of care efforts.

Over the next few years, CMS will likely put more of a focus on documentation improvement and information exchange. Getting a start now with a robust EHR suite could put your practice ahead of the pack.

Patient expectations for data availability

In addition to the Transcend Insights survey, a review of 36 independent studies published in the journal BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making showed that when patients understand the benefits of health information exchange (HIE) they are likely to support efforts to make HIE better.

In fact, when asked about their concerns regarding health information exchange, most patients worry about a system breakdown rather than a system breach. In other words, patients seem to place accessibility above security. Physicians who talk to their patients about the benefits of secure HIE could likely see a positive reaction.

Why patients place accessibility above security is likely a matter of self-preservation. If the HIE system – in whatever form it takes – were to break down, patient care might suffer, doctors may perform duplicate care and patient health may suffer as a result.

In light of these widespread views, it’s important for providers to have a strategy in place for improving their connections to the outside world. HIE only works when the original data is robust, the network is secure, and clinicians prioritize information accessibility. A customized EHR platform is the best way forward to achieve those goals.