Is Your Code (of Conduct)
Good Enough to Fix Healthcare?
Thank you for your interest in the Health Information Industry Code of Conduct. We believe this set of simple, straightforward principles has the power to move our industry forward, allowing us to finally realize HIT’s long-anticipated potential to transform healthcare. We invite our peer vendors to sign on, publicly joining us in committing to our clients and to the public to adhere to and support the principles below. Sign on to the whole thing, or just the ones that apply to your business model. Representatives of provider groups, hospitals, or hospital associations, or any other advocacy group in health care: sign on to tell the world your organization supports these principles and their broad adoption. Healthcare providers: sign on to tell us and the world that these principles are important to you and to your patients — and encourage your HIT vendors to sign on too!
A message from Jonathan Bush, CEO of athenahealth
Health Information Industry Code of Conduct
To achieve the universally supported objectives of systemic cost reduction and quality improvements, members of the health information industry should agree to maintain, uphold and abide by a uniform set of high standards related to data portability, patient safety, freedom of choice, and meaningful, ethical use by health care providers of health information technology (HIT).
The signatories hereto, representing innovative, forward-thinking members of the health information industry, agree that they and their respective companies will adhere to each of the provisions of the following Code of Conduct:
1. Empowering Data Portability and Provider Choice
In the event that any client opts to change to the electronic health record (EHR) of another signatory, we will, at our own expense, facilitate the intact transfer to the latter’s EHR of all of the provider’s clinical data.
Our health care providers should have the freedom to choose any EHR at any point without fear of losing data critical to patient care. Though we are in an age where technology facilitates incredible progress in almost every other industry, in health care, simple data transfer from the technology of one EHR vendor to that of another is overly complex and expensive. As a result, providers switching to a new EHR vendor cannot seamlessly incorporate patient charts from the old EHR, which ultimately has a negative impact on the quality and safety of patient care. EHR vendors should, at their own expense, ensure that patient data can seamlessly move from the system of one vendor to another with no undue burden to patients or providers.
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2. Building a True Nationwide Information Backbone
We will build, maintain, and curate reliable interfaces on behalf of any qualified healthcare provider that requests one.
The interoperability of EHR systems is a critical national health care priority. As Dr. Farzad Mostashari, National Coordinator for HIT at the US Department of Health and Human Services, said in a release of the Stage 2 Meaningful Use and 2014 EHR Certification rules, “The bottom line is, [facilitating electronic health information exchange across vendor platforms] is what’s right for the patient, and it’s what we have to do as a country to get to better health, better health care and lower costs.”

The HIT industry is working to develop and agree upon standards for electronic health information exchange, but this process cannot happen overnight. In the meantime, it is important for EHR vendors to prioritize building, maintaining, and curating interfaces the facilitate information exchange among health care providers.
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3. Protecting Patients
We commit to public reporting of adverse patient safety event information. Within one year of signing, we will affiliate with a Patient Safety Organization (PSO), report all patient safety-related events to that PSO, and work proactively with clients to identify and resolve the causes of any such issues.
Assuring the safety of patients is of paramount importance. EHR vendors can promote patient safety in the use of HIT by affiliating with and reporting adverse patient safety event information to a PSO. Not only will this help EHR vendors to work with clients to resolve patient safety issues, but it will also enable continual improvement in HIT. In the era of big data, learning from that data fuels innovation and improvement; public reporting of patient safety issues to PSOs ensures that safety data can be aggregated, learned from, and improved. No EHR vendor should ever discourage a provider from reporting a patient safety issue.
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4. Preventing Fraud
We will actively monitor, and report to clients, changes in provider billing patterns that could indicate up-coding or fraud.
Technology tends to make our lives easier. For those who want to do the right thing, be it authoring a research paper or documenting a clinical encounter, technology can bring incredible cost, time, and energy savings. And while technology can unfortunately also make it easier to inadvertently or intentionally do the wrong thing, such as plagiarizing or committing fraud, technology can also make it easier to monitor for and catch these errors. Rather than eliminating all functionality of an EHR that could be used for up-coding or fraud—which would also eliminate every EHR functionality that might lead to better care and cost savings-EHR vendors can and should take steps to work with their clients to verify the legitimacy of changes in provider billing patterns.
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5. Driving Meaningful Use
We will adjust reporting to accommodate government quality reporting programs, at no incremental cost to clients.
Our health care system is changing, and HIT is a critical component supporting that change. These changes to care delivery and payment models will bring increased burden to health care providers, and it is important that HIT be a means of relieving that burden, not adding to it. Therefore, EHR vendors should work to adjust to government quality reporting programs, such as the Meaningful Use Incentive Program, without increasing the burden to providers.
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20 HIT Vendors & 68 Individuals
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