AHIC Calls for Tests of Secure E-Messaging


Public and private payers may soon be testing reimbursement strategies for secure electronic messaging between clinicians and patients, if the American Health Information Community has anything to say about it.

The group, which advises Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt on health information technology (IT) interoperability issues, voted to urge payers to pilot-test secure messaging to evaluate possible forms of reimbursement, physician workflow issues, and the impact on patients' involvement in their care.

AHIC also voted to recommend that the Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel, an independent group that facilitates harmonization of standards, work on defining standards for secure messaging that will be interoperable with electronic health records.

And in an effort to ensure that access to secure messaging is available to all patients and clinicians, AHIC is asking officials at the Health and Human Services Department to look at different methods to address the gaps in access to computers and the Internet for poor and underserved populations and their safety net providers.

AHIC also recommended that the federal government work with state agencies and professional societies to develop new licensing alternatives that address the ability to provide electronic care delivery across state lines through secure messaging systems. This will be especially important in times of national emergency, said Dr. Mark McClellan, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and cochair of AHIC's chronic care workgroup.

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