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Alliance of Specialty Medicine Expresses Support for CMS and ONC Proposals to Increase Patient Access to Electronic Health Information in Comments on Interoperability Proposed Rules but Asks for Gradual Implementation of Policies

This week, ASCRS joined the Alliance of Specialty Medicine in letters to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) on their proposed rules to improve interoperability of electronic health information. 

While the Alliance supports the goals of the proposed rule, we express concerns on implementation in our letters and urged CMS and ONC to carry out these policy reforms gradually to ensure that health information can be shared with patients in a meaningful and usable format.

In our letter to CMS we urge it to more carefully evaluate the potential implications associated with making data so easily accessible and transferable, including risks related to information overload, data security, and increased physician burden. We encouraged CMS to recognize that as information is made more accessible, patient demands and expectations of clinicians also will rise.

Additionally, while we recognize that the ONC proposed rule will accelerate progress toward a more interoperable healthcare system, we express concerns in our letter to ONC that if numerous new and complex requirements are expected to be built by software developers and implemented in the aggressive proposed timeline of 24 months, it may result in poor functionality, cumbersome user-interfaces, and inflated costs for clinicians. For these reasons, we ask the ONC to carry out these reforms gradually.

ASCRS sent comments on both proposed rules in early May expressing similar sentiments—support for increasing patient access to electronic health information but concern over whether patients will be able to use the information to make informed health decisions.

CMS and ONC propose the polices to take effect in 2020. However, it is unclear when a final rule will be released. We will keep you updated.

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