Industry groups to HHS: Include patient generated data in MU Stage 3

By Jonah Comstock
WellDoc DiabetesManager WellDoc's technology has previously been integrated with a hospital's EHR during a pilot.

Eight healthcare and technology industry groups have sent a letter to the Health IT Policy Committee (HITPC), in the Department of Health and Human Services, asking that Meaningful Use Stage 3 guidelines include a requirement that electronic health records make use of patient generated data from remote monitoring devices.

"We believe that the HITPC should appreciate the value of PGHD [patient generated health data] by setting clear expectations in MU Stage 3 for providers, patients, and other stakeholders," they wrote. "PGHD should become elemental to the efficient delivery of healthcare."

The letter was signed by the American Telemedicine Association, the Association for Competitive Technology, the Center for Data Innovation, Continua Health Alliance, HIMSS, IHE USA, the Telecommunications Industry Association, and the Wireless-Life Sciences Alliance. It was addressed directly to Paul Tang, the chair of the HITPC workgroup that is currently putting together the Stage 3 guidelines for Meaningful Use.

Chuck Parker, Executive Director of the Continua Health Alliance, told MobiHealthNews the coalition got together in response to reports that ONC was looking to delay Meaningful Use Stage 3, which is set to take effect in 2016. He said the committee was already considering incorporating patient generated data into MU Stage 3, but the coalition wanted to "reiterate that they should continue on their existing pathway".

"We feel patient generated health data is sort of the next frontier," Parker said. "Meaningful Use was really to encourage health care entities and the physicians to begin using electronic technology for medical data and medical management. The next step is the consumer and we feel it's very important that we engage the consumer or patient in this discussion and in this aspect of health community."

Rob McCray, President and CEO of the Wireless-Life Sciences Alliance, told MobiHealthNews patient generated data is becoming an essential part of healthcare.

"In my opinion, the core issue is that HIT systems of the future must adapt to enable the use of data that is generated by patients when they are not in the clinic," he wrote in an email. "Patient engagement in their own health and wellbeing is central to plans to decrease the cost of health care and improve population health. HIT systems that do not support these developments should be obsolete and certainly should not be supported by taxpayers."

In the letter, the signers lay out some of the benefits remote monitoring can offer in terms of improving patient care and reducing costs. They quote a recent Juniper Research study saying that "remote monitoring will result in savings of $36 billion globally by 2018, with North America accounting for 75 percent of those savings." Requiring hospitals to make use of patient generated data would supercharge remote monitoring adoption the same way the meaningful use program in general has accelerated EHR adoption.

In addition, codifying incorporation of patient-generated data will also support interoperability and ensure that remote monitoring devices and EHRs will be able to work together with one another. The groups requested that "EHR systems should be required to incorporate open, voluntary, and consensus-based industry standards for interoperability with remote patient monitoring devices, services and systems."

The flip side of patient-generated data is patient access to EHRs, something ONC has previously discussed bringing to Meaningful Use Stage 3 via its Blue Button Plus program. Blue Button Plus recently launched a major public outreach campaign.

Parker said remote monitoring and other sources of patient data will continue growing, but are already widely available. The sooner Meaningful Use guidelines encourage wider adoption of these technologies, he suggested, the better.

"What we're saying is don't delay it," Parker told MobiHealthNews. "The technology exists today and we, the companies, are ready to implement it."