Epic may sue HHS over interoperability rules concerns, Judy Faulkner says

Epic may hit HHS with a lawsuit depending on the data sharing stipulations the agency includes in its final version of proposed interoperability rules, according to Politico's Morning eHealth Jan. 23 newsletter.

Epic CEO Judy Faulkner told the publication that the EHR giant might sue HHS if the final rules "are as objectionable as she found their draft versions."

The EHR giant would prefer to collaborate with HHS to address its concerns with the rules, which are slated for release in early 2020, rather than taking legal action, an Epic spokesperson said in a statement to Becker's Hospital Review.

"Our goal is to work with HHS and the Administration to fix the proposed rule and make sure it is a good one," the statement reads. "Epic's focus is on saving lives and improving healthcare for patients, and we have no interest in pursuing a lawsuit."

The rules would require companies to make their health records software more interoperable by allowing providers to share patient data with outside organizations. The rules would also give patients free and direct access to their medical data via third-party smartphone applications.

Ms. Faulkner argued that the rules present privacy concerns, leaving patients' data unprotected from unregulated apps that could sell or exploit their health information. Earlier this week, Ms. Faulkner emailed a letter to some of Epic's largest U.S. hospital clients, asking them to oppose the proposed interoperability rule.

A finalized version of the rules would open the door for tech companies such as Apple and Google to compete with EHR vendors, said Cynthia Fisher, founder of PatientRightsAdvocate.org and HITAC member, according to the report. She added that competition is good for improving patient experience.

"…technology can be a benefit to the consumer ... the tech community can do [to health IT] what Uber did to the taxicab industry," Ms. Fisher said.

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