HHS Releases Proposed Rules to Improve Interoperability and Patient Access

February 2019 ~

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced two new proposed rules designed to “support seamless and secure access, exchange, and use of electronic health information.” According to the press release, CMS’ and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s (ONC) proposals would increase choice and competition while fostering innovation that promotes patient access to and control over their health information.

The “Interoperability and Patient Access Proposed Rule” proposed by CMS would better support the goals of the MyHealthEData initiative and, according to the agency, and would also increase the flow of health information, reduce the burden on patients and providers, and foster innovation by unleashing data for researchers and innovators.

According to the CMS fact sheet, its proposal would require Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans to provide enrollees with “immediate access to their medical claims and other information by 2020”, and would allow the agency to publish names of facilities that have been found to limit or block patients to access health information and data. The proposal from CMS would also require health plans and providers to use open data-sharing technologies to make it easier for people to move between different payers.

The ONC’s proposal, 21st Century Cures Act: Interoperability, Information Blocking, and the ONC Health IT Certification Program, if finalized, would implement provisions of the Cures Act to prevent and penalize information blocking, advance interoperability standards, and support the access, exchange, and use of electronic health information (EHI).

The proposed rule from the ONC, according to the press release, would revise its existing Health IT Certification Program, require payers and healthcare professionals to move to standardized application programming interfaces, as well as callout information-blocking practices and ensure patients have unrestricted and free access to their health information.

CMS is seeking comments, through April, as to how the agency can “leverage its authority to improve patient identification and safety to encourage better coordination of care across different healthcare settings while advancing interoperability,” while the ONC asks for comments on pricing information that could accompany EHI to help the public get a better idea of the cost of care.



Source(s): U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Press Office; Federal Register; CMS Fact Sheet; CMS Special Topics; Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to Improve the Interoperability of Health Information; 21st Century Cures Act: Interoperability, Information Blocking, and the Onc Health IT Certification Program Proposed Rule Fact Sheet; Patient Engagement HIT; Healthcare Finance News;