Below is Centralis Health’s formal response to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services request for information as it relates to the Interoperability and Patient Access final rule, CMS-9115-F, Reducing the Use of Fax Machines for Health Care Data Exchange.
Over the last decade, Centralis Health has worked with medical communities across Florida and the nation to greatly reduce the use of fax machines and fax phone lines in the electronic exchange of health care data and communications.
Our success is grounded in the development of an easy-to-deploy process to eliminate faxing. This has been accomplished by providing physician practices, county health clinics, urban hospitals, and rural hospitals with tools that directly integrate with health care providers’ existing processes. Our hFax service is a comprehensive, hosted, HIPAA/HITECH-compliant fax-like solution specifically designed to transition from dependence on telecommunication carrier networks to robust regional health information exchange that is connected to the national eHealth Exchange.
To improve workflow and patient care, electronic data exchange can replace the fax, reducing the burden and increasing efficiency in the health care community. A significant portion of faxing can be reduced by simply using an EHR-neutral cloud-based electronic data exchange service and API that manages care coordination communication during transitions of care. This EHR-neutral cloud-based API allows communication between referral partners, hospitals, ambulatory facilities, and/or payers. By interfacing EHR data into the EHR-neutral cloud-based electronic data exchange service and allowing authorized users to query the clinical data, this will eliminate the need for the data originators to quasi-fax the data out of their EHR. Leveraging this single EHR-neutral cloud-based electronic data exchange service and allowing payers limited access for record requests will greatly reduce health care faxing.
Clinical workflow is vastly improved using an adaptable service outside of the EHR that integrates care coordination, fax communication, and access to clinical data in a single toolset. Efficiencies and transparency created by robust audit trails, lost or elimination of misplaced faxes, and real-time access to clinical data improve patient care significantly.
CMS can easily improve communications and reduce faxing by recognizing that connecting to the national e-Health Exchange via local and state HIEs fulfills the MIPS and CoP’s interoperability requirements. This action alone from CMS will broadly expand the sharing of data locally and nationally. The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a harsh light on many longstanding inefficiencies in the health care system – including the lack of data sharing and data access at the time of urgent need for patient care – and this one simple action by CMS will greatly reduce the barriers to data sharing.