AMA reviewing interoperability rules for patient focus and privacy issues

March 10, 2020

Since last year’s release of proposed rules from the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) implementing the 21st Century Cures Act’s provisions on information blocking and interoperability, the American Medical Association (AMA) has engaged regularly with policymakers to refine the proposals so they meet the needs of patients and physicians, as addressed in their recent statement. 

“The AMA has been advocating on behalf of physicians and patients for over 10 years to ensure EHR usability, interoperability, and patient data and safety are top concerns when government agencies develop new policies,” said AMA President Patrice A. Harris, M.D., MA. “We applied this knowledge and momentum as we worked with CMS and ONC in anticipation of today’s release of the final rule. As the AMA reviews the new rules, we will pay special attention to policies aimed at creating efficiencies in data exchange, reduction in physician burden, and patient control over and access to their data.”

The AMA will be looking particularly in the following areas:

·        Privacy controls that require apps to be transparent about what data is being collected and how the app developers intend to use it, and security safeguards for patients using apps to access health information 

·         Rules that prohibit vendors from charging excessive fees, including “gag clauses” that prevent physicians from publicizing problems with their EHRs 

·         A usage-based fee structure to limit EHR vendor fees and prevent physicians from incurring costs for exchanging health data that complies with federal requirements 

·         Programming tools to improve physician and patient access to health information 

·         More stringent requirements on EHR testing and usability

·         Limiting unnecessary and inappropriate access to EHR data from insurers and other non-clinical entities

·         More clarity and a reduction in the complexity of information blocking exceptions for physicians

·         Less aggressive and separate EHR implementation timelines for vendors and physicians

In the coming weeks, the AMA will undertake aggressive action to provide physicians and patients with resources to help understand how these new regulations will affect their medical practices and care, reduce confusion around state and federal regulations on data access and EHR interoperability, and timelines of when to expect updates to EHR products and vendor contracts.

AMA has the statement.