Last year, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) proposed new rules to improve the interoperability of electronic health information (“EHI”) to fulfill its statutory requirement under the 21st Century Cures Act. These proposed rules were issued by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (“ONC”) to address both technical and healthcare industry factors that create barriers to the interoperability of health information and limit a patient’s ability to access EHI. Epic, one of the largest programs for maintaining electronic health records (“EHR”), is attempting to halt the finalization of the interoperability rules before they take effect as they believe it posts privacy concerns. On March 9, 2020, HHS announced the joint final rules from CMS and ONC to spur innovation and to end information blocking.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) jointly create national standards for electronic transactions, code sets, and unique identifiers. The ACA introduced Administrative Simplification provisions in 2010 and now the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) has launched a Compliance Review Program to ensure that HIPAA covered entities are abiding by the Administrative Simplification rules.
In a time when data breaches occur fairly frequently, whether it’s credit card information being stolen from department stores or a credit reporting bureau breach affecting hundreds of millions of customers, keeping personal information private seems to get harder every day. That fact may give patients pause when they are asked to sign up for an electronic health record account. A 2017 survey listed electronic health record management as one of patients top concerns. Changes in recent years have led to changes in compliance measures that make electronic health records security an added benefit to patients and ensure the continued increase of their adoption.