The Trump administration is widely expected to release major rules on Monday dictating how electronic health information is shared with patients and between providers.
The administration was on track to release the much-anticipated final rules on interoperability and data blocking at HIMSS20, where President Donald Trump was scheduled to speak Monday. But the Health Information and Management Systems Society called off its annual conference and exhibition last week due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Office of Management and Budget posted a notice stating that it had concluded its review of the proposed rules on Friday.
Lobbyists from multiple healthcare organizations over the weekend confirmed receiving emails inviting them to a stakeholder conference call with HHS Secretary Alex Azar, Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan, CMS Administrator Seema Verma and National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Dr. Donald Rucker. During the call, the HHS officials will discuss "an important policy announcement regarding the administration's commitment to empowering American patients."
The companion proposals, released by the ONC and the CMS early last year, aimed to push providers and insurers to adopt standardized application programming interfaces, or APIs—protocols that connect IT systems like electronic health records with third-party apps. But the approach has proved extremely controversial. Provider groups have repeatedly voiced concern that the focus on allowing patients to download their health data using third-party apps creates privacy concerns, since app developers aren't held to the same privacy standards as providers and insurers. EHR system developers have argued that the ONC's move to limit fees that suppliers of data-sharing technology can charge could stifle innovation. Some organizations, including Epic Systems Corp., launched aggressive campaigns against the changes. Epic CEO Judy Faulkner urged the company's customers to sign a letter to HHS opposing the rules.
But administraton officials have remained steadfast in their commitment to the approach.
"I want to be quite clear: Patients need and deserve control over their records," HHS Secretary Alex Azar said at the ONC's annual meeting in January. "Unfortunately, some are defending the balkanized, outdated status quo and fighting our proposals fiercely."