Federal interoperability and information blocking rules finalized

Highly anticipated rules about interoperability, information sharing, and patient access to medical data were finalized and released today. The rules will impact many players in the health IT industry, including IMO.

On Monday morning, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the finalized language of two highly anticipated rules impacting the health IT field. The rules, which detail new regulations about information blocking and interoperability, formally establish policies with which health IT providers must comply in order to help patients more easily access their medical data.

“The final rules continue an effort to increase patient access to their health information through increased interoperability and prevention of information blocking. IMO’s tools and services can help health IT developers and users successfully meet the new requirements by simplifying the management of patient data,” explained Andrew S. Kanter, MD, Chief Medical Officer at IMO. “We look forward to continuing to help our clients provide the best possible care to their patients.”

The goal of the rules is to help patients access their medical information in a more streamlined manner, making it easier to move between providers and insurance plans. “A core part of the rule is patients’ control of their electronic health information, which will drive a growing patient-facing healthcare IT economy,” said HHS’ National Coordinator for Health IT Don Rucker, MD, in a press release on Monday.

The finalized rules will implement provisions regarding interoperability and patient access to data originally outlined in the 21st Century Cures Act, which was passed in 2016. The two rules were issued by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), respectively. The ONC rule establishes what practices constitute information blocking and explains the compliance standards for 3rd-party patient applications who access and share medical data. The CMS rule explains new interoperability standards as they apply to Medicare Advantage and Medicaid, among other CMS programs.

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