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HHS Issues Final Rules to Support Streamlined Healthcare Access; Seema Verma Quoted

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Seema Verma
Seema Verma

The Department of Health and Human Services has issued final rules meant to improve access to electronic health records and streamline communication between patients and healthcare providers.

HHS said Monday that it finalized a rule preventing “information blocking” practices among providers and health information technology firms to improve interoperability, user experience and access to visual communications-based data.

The rule also requires EHR databases to “provide the clinical data necessary” such as allergies and medications to support the development of new healthcare business models.

In addition, HHS issued a final rule establishing the standards-based Patient Access application programming interface that will enable patients to obtain EHR data and other relevant information through third-party devices.

Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and 2019 Wash100 Award winner, said the rules will help HHS address data silo challenges that prevented smooth access to patient care.

“We are holding payers to a higher standard while protecting patient privacy through secure access to their health information,” she said. “Patients can expect improved quality and better outcomes at a lower cost.”

CMS and the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT issued both rules in efforts to comply with the 21st Century Cures Act.