The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced the launch of its Data Element Library (DEL), with the overarching goal to support the exchange of electronic health information.
The federal agency said that now for the first time, the public can view the specific types of data that CMS requires post-acute care facilities (such as nursing homes and rehabilitation hospitals) to collect as part of the health assessment of their patients. These assessments include questions and response options (data elements) about patients, including demographics, medical problems and other types of health evaluations, CMS officials noted.
According to CMS, “Many of these data elements have been standardized, which means that they are exactly the same no matter which type of post-acute care facility is using them. Healthcare facilities integrate all of this patient information into their medical record systems, and this information is used for multiple purposes, such as payment by CMS, quality measurement and quality improvement. It is important to note that the DEL doesn’t contain any patient-identifiable data whatsoever.”
What’s more, CMS pointed out that the DEL also includes the health IT standards that support the collection of health information, which are the nationally agreed upon methods for connecting electronic health systems together. Because the DEL now puts these standards and data elements all in one place in a “one-stop shop,” the goal will be for health IT vendors to seamlessly incorporate them into electronic health records (EHRs) that are used by post-acute care providers, the agency attested. As CMS stated, “Integrating these data elements into EHRs will ultimately allow health information to flow more easily from one provider to another.”
CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement, “The DEL supports the use and sharing of data, and aligns with MyHealthEData, a governmentwide effort strengthening the interoperability of health information. It also closely aligns with CMS’ Patients Over Paperwork initiative focused on reducing administrative burden and costs while improving care coordination, outcomes and patients’ ability to make decisions about their own care.”
The CMS Data Element Library can be viewed here.