Las Vegas, NV – On February 29, 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that companies who provide more than 90 percent of the EHRs used by hospitals nationwide and the five largest health systems have agreed to adhere to three principles:
- Help consumers access their information, and let them direct it to others
- Not block health information
- Implement federal standards and policies for interoperability, and best practices for privacy and security
On March 1, 2016, Health IT Now (HITN) issued the following statement in response:
We applaud HHS for initiating this pledge and the organizations that have signed on to support these policies. Unfortunately, to date, federal policy has not kept pace with technological advances. Far too many patients lack access to their health information in a usable format, and even fewer have the ability to share their own health information. In order to begin addressing this issue, HITN believes HHS should – as a requirement as part of federal programs – allow consumers to view their information, download it, and transmit it to whomever they choose.
Furthermore, while we laud HHS and the organizations who have signed the pledge, we believe success will not be realized without proper enforcement mechanisms. We urge HHS to use its current statutory authority to implement the following policies to help these organizations transition to clarity:
- Make it a condition of participation in Medicare to not block information.
- Decertify vendor products that inhibit information sharing in Meaningful Use and require certification bodies to test for information blocking.
- Only pay Meaningful Use incentives to providers who do not knowingly and intentionally interfere with information sharing.
- Utilize Stark and anti-kickback violations for blocking information or donating health IT that allows others to knowingly and intentionally interfere with information sharing.
- Make it a HIPAA violation to block information, create an incomplete medical record, or deny patient access to their complete set of personal health information.
Health IT Now looks forward to working with HHS on this important initiative.