Dr. Donald Rucker
National coordinator for health information technology
To advance interoperability, healthcare organizations must turn to open application programming interfaces, federal healthcare IT chief Dr. Don Rucker said Tuesday.
Speaking in a "fireside chat" at the annual conference of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, Rucker drew on the call for interoperability at the heart of Jared Kushner's and CMS Administrator Seema Verma's speeches Tuesday morning.
"We're living in a world, as Jared and Seema mentioned, where the computer in our pocket or purse is providing us with lots of new business models," said Rucker, who leads the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.
Giving patients control of their own data, and letting that data travel with the patient, not the provider, will advance interoperabililty, Rucker said.
"It means there's going to be a whole different level of patient engagement," he said, which contrasts with how "passive" Americans today are in healthcare.
Open APIs "without special effort," called for in the 21st Century Cures Act, will also further interoperability, Rucker said, calling these APIs the "most transformative" tool for interoperability. Those APIs depend on modern standards, including JSON and FHIR.
They also depend on an industry without information-blocking, which the 21st Century Cures Act prohibits. The CMS and ONC will work together to ensure the flow of information is aligned with a common good, Rucker said.
The ONC will include details about information-blocking in a rule this spring, Rucker said. The rule would update the HITECH Act and meet some provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act. It will also attend to how health information networks report using a trusted exchange framework.
Rulemaking will also come into play for the looming overhaul of electronic health record certification programs, Rucker said. The recently passed budget bill included a provision that removed the requirement for meaningful-use stipulations to grow more "stringent" over time, and federal agencies will clarify what that means for providers.