CMS proposes new rules about interoperability

Clinicians and patients are often frustrated by the difficulty in obtaining timely access to patient information, even with the use of Electronic Health Records (EHRs). Even the same brand of EHRs, used by different systems, may not “talk” to each other. State run information exchanges have often been underfunded and inadequate. We are still, all too often, having staff call for records, waiting for faxes, scanning in reams of paper records, etc. causing delays or “over-ordering” of duplicate services, all of which adds to cost and inefficient care.

On February 11, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) both issued proposed rules to fulfill statutory requirements in the 21st Century Cures Act. The proposed rules seek to:

  • Improve the ability of health care providers to transmit patient health information to each other in an interoperable format
  • Improve the ability of patients to access their personal electronic health data, and
  • Prevent health care systems from engaging in “information blocking.”

Most of the proposed rule’s provisions will take effect by 2020. The Advocacy Council’s government affairs consultant, Bill Finerfrock, explains in more detail.