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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Thursday unveiled a new database designed to support the exchange of electronic health information.
Called the Data Element Library (DEL), this free, centralized resource allows the public to view the specific types of data CMS requires post-acute care facilities such as nursing homes and rehabilitation hospitals to collect as part of the health assessment of their patients.
Data obtained through the patient assessments include demographic information, medical conditions, and other health indicators. None of the patient data collected in the DEL is patient-identifiable, according to CMS.
Hospitals and other healthcare facilities integrate this patient data into their medical record systems. The information is “used for multiple purposes, such as payment by CMS, quality measurement and quality improvement,” CMS said in a statement.
The DEL also includes the health IT standards that support collection of digital health data. Locating these standards with the collected health information in a “one-stop shop” will make it easier for health IT vendors to build them into their electronic health records (EHRs) systems used by post-acute care facilities, the federal agency said.
“Integrating these data elements into EHRs will ultimately allow health information to flow more easily from one provider to another,” CMS said. “For example, when a patient moves from a rehabilitation hospital to a skilled nursing facility, then from that facility to home under the care of a home health agency, the transfer of the patient’s health record from one facility to the next will be much easier because they are all ‘speaking the same language.’ This means better communication across healthcare providers, lower burden on providers and ultimately improved coordination of care for patients.”
CMS administrator Seema Verma said the DEL is part of the federal MyHealthEData program to boost health data interoperability, as well as Patients Over Paperwork, a CMS initiative that aims to improve care coordination, empower patient decision-making, and reduce administrative work and costs.