ONC to work with CMS to reduce administrative burdens on physicians

HHS' ONC is working to reduce administrative burdens for physicians to meet the requirements of the 21st Century Cures Act, the National Coordinator for Health IT Don Rucker, MD, wrote in an agency blog post.

As part of the law, ONC is tasked with improving interoperability of health information, which is also a core tenet of the administration-wide MyHealthEData Initiative. Over the next few years, the agency will work with stakeholders and other federal agencies to advance application programming interfaces, address information blocking, devise a Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement and develop a strategy to reduce administrative burdens through collaboration with CMS.

Here are three  updates on ONC's efforts, as laid out in Dr. Rucker's blog post:

1. Open APIs. The agency's No. 1 goal is to enhance individuals' ability to access their health data on their smartphones. APIs are defined as "technology that allow one software program to access the services provided by another software program," he writes. They must be standardized, transparent and pro-competitive to leave an impact on the industry, and to do that, Dr. Rucker proposed incorporating current API rules with the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources.

2. Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement. The Cures Act requires ONC to device a framework that addresses the policies and practices among health information networks. The agency released its draft guidance in January, but the final rule will "set common principles, terms, and conditions that facilitate trust between disparate health information networks," Dr. Rucker writes. "It will seek to scale interoperability nationwide and enable participating networks to work together to provide an on-ramp to electronic health information regardless of what health IT developer a provider uses, health information exchange or network a provider contracts with, or how far across the country the patients' medical records are located."

3. Information blocking. Healthcare organizations are under economic pressure to not share  health information. However, the Cures Act seeks to discourage information blocking. "The information blocking provision addresses actions that can impede the flow of electronic health information, or its use to improve health and the delivery of care. The prohibition against information blocking applies to health care providers, health IT developers, exchanges, and networks. Further, the Cures Act permits the establishment of disincentives and the imposition of substantial penalties for information blocking," Dr. Rucker writes. To address information blocking, ONC is set to define it and establish a rule that addresses it.  

"These collective steps to promote interoperability will help make sure that patients can get their data where and when they need it and in the most usable format," Dr. Rucker writes. "We need to reinject market competition to get economic value from modern healthcare. Greater and more efficient access to clinical data by patients and payers will be a valuable tool in restoring transparency to the American healthcare business and system."

Click here to access the full blog post.

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