HHS Proposes Improved Patient Access and Health Data Exchange at No Cost

HHS Proposes Improved Patient Access and Health Data Exchange at No Cost

We saw the writing on the wall when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) changed the name for the EHR Incentive Program from "Meaningful Use," to "Advancing Care Information," and now to "Promoting Interoperability." With this name change, we can expect not only an increased focus on interoperability but also on improved patient access and health data exchange.

Just recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced proposed new rules that are said to support seamless and secure access, exchange, and use of electronic health information. The HHS announcement also states that the rules, issued by CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), would increase choice and competition while fostering innovation that promotes patient access to and control over their health information. Also, the proposed ONC rule would require that patient electronic access to this electronic health information (EHI) be made available at no cost.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma said the "announcement builds on CMS' efforts to create a more interoperable healthcare system, which improves patient access, seamless data exchange, and enhanced care coordination." She goes on to say that "by requiring health insurers to share their information in an accessible, format by 2020, 125 million patients will have access to their health claims information electronically. This unprecedented step toward a healthcare future where patients are able to obtain and share their health data, securely and privately, with just a few clicks, is just the beginning of a digital data revolution that truly empowers American patients."

To read more about the CMS proposed rule, click HERE.

According to Don Rucker, M.D., National Coordinator for Health IT, "by supporting secure access of electronic health information and strongly discouraging information blocking, the proposed rule supports the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act. The rule would support patients accessing and sharing their electronic health information while giving them the tools to shop for and coordinate their own health care." He goes on to say, "we encourage everyone - patients, patient advocates, healthcare providers, health IT developers, health information networks, application innovators, and anyone else interested in the interoperability and transparency of health information - to share their comments on the proposed rule we posted today."

To read more about the ONC proposed rule, click HERE.