Two agencies from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the final rules for interoperability and information-blocking proposals. Interoperability, which means the ability of health information systems to work together within and across organizational boundaries in order to advance the effective delivery of healthcare, has been a main topic in the healthcare industry, as these rules will determine how providers, insurers and patients interchange health data.
According to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, patients and values have been the center of improving the healthcare system and the newly finalized rules will give patients the opportunity to improve their own health while driving quality of healthcare through a more balanced and transparent coordination between the patients, providers and insurers. The interoperability rules will also the exchange of health data through the adoption of standardized application programming interfaces (APIs), which are through third-party apps and EHRs.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) stated that the goal is to facilitate better coordinated care between facilities. Facilities that participate in Medicare and Medicaid are required to communicate with other facilities and providers of a shared patient’s actions, i.e. when that said patient is admitted, discharged, or transferred, which gives providers a clearer picture of the patient’s timeline and history of care.
Although the interoperability rules have a clear goal of keeping the patient’s best care interests in mind, the rules have garnered backlash from both providers and technology groups. The main concern from these groups is that patient privacy may be in danger, as their personal healthcare data will now be available to many different groups. In defense, the CMS said that the rules will allow payers to ask app developers to follow set privacy provisions, which pertains to the secondary use of healthcare data. The American Medical Association also voiced concerns over the absence of privacy standards when healthcare data is downloaded from the third party apps, since those app developers arent held accountable by HIPAA.
Read the original article from Modern Healthcare here.