The United States confounds me: on the one hand, it evidences a dark, anti-scientific passion that threatens civil society; on the other hand, it advances the application of science and technology to promote the public good.
A case in point: yesterday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed new rules to support seamless and secure access, exchange, and use of electronic health information. The rules would increase choice and competition while fostering innovation that promotes patient access to and control over their health information. The new rules would require that:
- Patient electronic access to electronic health information (EHI) should be made available at no cost.
- Health care providers and plans should implement open data sharing technologies to support transitions of care as patients move between providers and plans.
- The healthcare industry should adopt standardized application programming interfaces (APIs) to allow patients to securely and easily access structured and unstructured EHI formats using smartphones and other mobile devices.
- Public reporting of healthcare providers that participate in “information blocking” – practices that unreasonably limit the availability, disclosure, and use of electronic health information undermine efforts to improve interoperability.
The new rules aim to reduce technical and healthcare industry barriers that limit a patient’s ability to access essential health information by advancing interoperability in important ways:
- Entities must conform to the same advanced API standards as those proposed for certified health IT.
- Content and vocabulary standards for clinical data classes are aligned through the United States Core Data for Interoperability standard (USCDI).