HHS proposes elimination of gag clauses in EHR vendor contracts

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Gag clauses in EHR vendor contracts, which prevent physicians and healthcare systems from disclosing system errors, could be eliminated in HHS' proposed interoperability rules, according to wbur.org.

The rules, issued by CMS and ONC, support the MyHealthEData initiative and the 21st Century Cures Act. In addition to proposing healthcare providers and plans establish open data-sharing technologies for patients' increased EHR access, ONC also highlighted the effect gag clauses have on patient safety.

"The proposed rule says that there is a growing recognition that prohibiting or restricting communication about health IT software doesn't promote safety," ONC Chief Clinical Officer Andrew Gettinger, MD, told wbur.

Raj Ratwani, PhD, director of Washington, D.C.-based MedStar Health National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare, published a letter to Congress, asking for more safety provisions to be added to EHRs. After Dr. Ratwani told his colleague John Levinson, MD, PhD, a cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, about the letter, Dr. Levinson sent it out to 800 colleagues, almost all of whom have already signed it, according to the report. 

ONC is seeking public comment to determine the amount of gag clauses currently in use, Dr. Gettinger said, according to the report. The comment period is open until May 3.

To access the full report, click here.

For a fact sheet on the ONC proposed rule, click here.

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