HHS finalizes interoperability rules: 7 things to know

HHS on March 9 finalized two interoperability rules that will give patients secure and free access to their health data.

The two rules, issued by ONC and CMS, support the MyHealthEData Initiative and 21st Century Cures Act. Click here to view a timeline of Becker's Hospital Review's coverage of the rules since they were first proposed in February 2019. 

Seven things to know about the finalized rules:

1. The ONC final rule pinpoints necessary activities that do not constitute information blocking and establishes new regulations to prevent information blocking practices by providers, health IT developers, health information exchanges and health information networks.

2. Under ONC's new rule, EHR users will be able to share health records data in formats such as screen shots or video. The rule outlines new provisions for health IT developers to ensure that providers using their products can communicate about health IT usability, user experience, interoperability and security using visual methods.

3. ONC's final rule also requires EHRs to provide necessary clinical data, include data classes, to promote new business models of care. The rule supports the advancement of common data through the U.S. Core Data for Interoperability, which is a standardized set of health data classes and data elements used for nationwide, health information exchange.

4. ONC's final rule also establishes standardized application programming interface requirements to support patients' free access and control of their electronic health data via smartphone app of their choice.

"President Trump is delivering on his vision for healthcare that is affordable, personalized, and puts patients in control," HHS Secretary Alex M. Azar said in a news release. "From the start of our efforts to put patients and value at the center of our healthcare system, we've been clear: Patients should have control of their records, period. Now that's becoming a reality."

5. CMS' interoperability and patient access final rule requires Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, CHIP and federal exchanges health plans to electronically share claims data with patients beginning Jan. 21, 2021.

6. The Patient Access API, required by CMS, will allow patients to access their health data through any third-party app they pick to connect to the API and will integrate a health plan's information with a patient's EHR. Patients can take their health and claims data with them as they move from different health plans and providers.

7. Under CMS' final rule, the agency will establish a new condition of participation for all Medicare and Medicaid participating hospitals, requiring them to send electronic notifications to other healthcare facilities or community providers when a patient is admitted, transferred or discharged. Beginning April 1, 2022, CMS will also require states to send enrollee data for beneficiaries enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid.

Click here to view the ONC final rule.

Click here to view the CMS final rule.

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