ONC and CMS finalize rules giving patients access to their health data

March 10, 2020

The federal government finalized two rules that address interoperability between disparate electronic health records and information blocking—the practice of interfering with the exchange of electronic health information.

The rules are designed to improve patients’ access to their health data.

The two rules, issued by the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), implement interoperability and patient access provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act).

As is required by the Cures Act, ONC’s final rule identifies the “reasonable and necessary” activities that do not constitute information blocking.

To make patients’ health data easier for them to access, ONC’s final rule also establishes standards-based application programming interface (API) requirements, which are the foundation of smartphone apps.

The ONC final rule also advances the concept of standard data through the U.S. Core Data for Interoperability (USCDI). The USCDI is a standardized set of health data classes and data elements, such as clinical notes and information on allergies and medications. The USCDI also includes essential demographic data to support patient matching across care settings.

Meanwhile, the CMS Interoperability and Patient Access final rule requires health plans in Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and through the federal health insurance exchanges to share claims data electronically with patients.

As far as hospitals, the CMS rule establishes a new Condition of Participation (CoP) for all Medicare and Medicaid participating hospitals, requiring them to send electronic notifications to other healthcare facility or community provider or practitioner when a patient is admitted, discharged, or transferred.

Visit ONC for more news