The Sequoia Project, a healthcare interoperability not-for-profit, is convening a new workgroup focused on information-blocking.
The CMS and the ONC first released their proposed rules in February, outlining how regulators will require providers and insurers to share medical data with patients, while also taking steps to discourage these organizations from creating barriers that inhibit health data exchange. Participating in activities that lead to these barriers is commonly referred to as "information-blocking."
The Sequoia Project is convening the information-blocking workgroup under Interoperability Matters, a public-private cooperative the not-for-profit founded in 2018 to address barriers to nationwide healthcare interoperability.
The new workgroup will submit comments on the information-blocking requirements outlined in the CMS and the ONC's rules, such as the proposal to make public the names of providers who block patient information. The workgroup is led by Steve Gravely, CEO of the consulting firm Gravely Group; Dr. Mark Segal, principal at Digital Health Policy Advisors; and The Sequoia Project staff.
The Sequoia Project plans to host online public forums during which providers, insurers and vendors can offer input as its workgroup finalizes comments on the CMS and the ONC's proposals. The first forum is slated for March 19.
"We've seen a seismic shift towards greater interoperability in the past three years," Mariann Yeager, CEO of The Sequoia Project, said in a news release. "True, meaningful interoperability is expanding and hospitals and health systems across the country are beginning to share health records at an unprecedented level. But we can't declare victory yet considering there are still barriers, including the practices that are perceived to impede information sharing."
Health IT groups from across the healthcare industry are preparing to draft comments on the proposed rules. The public comment periods for both rules close May 3.
The Electronic Health Record Association, a trade group representing 30-plus software vendors, wants 30-day extensions to the comment periods, citing concerns that measures included in the proposals may require coding and implementation that won't be feasible in the proposed 24-month timeline.
"Together these rules suggest complicated, significant adjustments to the complex regulations already governing the health IT industry, and stakeholders deserve adequate time to provide thoughtful, detailed comments on the impacts of the proposals," the EHR Association wrote in its letter to the CMS. "Therefore, the EHR Association writes today to request a 30-day extension of the comment period to June 3, 2019."