60 health systems sign Epic's letter opposing HHS' interoperability rules

Sixty U.S. health systems have signed Epic's letter opposing HHS' proposed interoperability rules, according to a Feb. 5 CNBC report.

Last month, Epic CEO Judy Faulkner emailed leaders at some of the country's largest health systems, asking them to voice their disapproval of the proposed rules. The regulations, which were issued by CMS and ONC last year, would require the health IT industry to adopt application programming interfaces to help patients more easily access their health data.

In the letter, which was addressed to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, Epic and health systems including NYU Langone in New York City, United Health Services in King of Prussia, Pa., UW Health in Madison, Wis., and SSM Health in St. Louis, claimed the proposed rule would threaten patient privacy. Epic recently released a public statement detailing its privacy concerns with the rules, claiming they lack transparency requirements of third-party companies.  

"While we support HHS' goal of empowering patients with their health data and reducing costs through the 21st Century Cures Act, we are concerned that ONC's Proposed Rule on interoperability will be overly burdensome on our health system and will endanger patient privacy," the letter reads, according to CNBC. "Specifically, the scope of regulated data, the timeline for compliance, and the significant costs and penalties will make it extraordinarily difficult for us to comply."

The letter recommends making changes to the rule, including instituting a longer timeline of at least 12 months to prepare for the regulations and 36 months to develop new technology the rule would require. The rule is currently expected to finalize this month.

An HHS spokesperson told CNBC that it did receive the letter and provided the following statement to the network: "We appreciate all stakeholder feedback as we continue to finalize the rules," they said. "Our ultimate goal is to ensure that patients are able to easily access their electronic medical records."

Click here to access the full report and the complete list of health systems that signed the letter.   

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