US passes interoperability rules giving patients more data control


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has passed two rules that will help patients have more control over their health data.

The two rules, issued by the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and Centres for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), implement interoperability and patient access provisions of the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act) and support President Trump’s MyHealthEData initiative.

Part of the 21st Century Cures Act has caused some concerns from supplier Epic, whose CEO reportedly called on the chief executives of US hospital systems to co-sign a letter protesting against it.

Judy Faulkner expressed concerns about a particular rule which would give patients the right to  access their electronic data as well as provisions to penalise companies that block access to that information.

Drafted by the ONC, the new rules require EHRs to operate seamlessly with third-party apps and prevents EHR vendors and health care systems from data blocking. They are designed to address the current fragmentation of US healthcare data and give patients greater control of their data.

Despite Faulkner’s concerns, the rules have now been finalised by the US government.

Don Rucker, national coordinator for health information technology at ONC, said: “Delivering interoperability actually gives patients the ability to manage their healthcare the same way they manage their finances, travel and every other component of their lives.

“This requires using modern computing standards and APIs that give patients access to their health information and give them the ability to use the tools they want to shop for and coordinate their own care on their smartphones.

“A core part of the rule is patients’ control of their electronic health information which will drive a growing patient-facing healthcare IT economy, and allow apps to provide patient-specific price and product transparency.”

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