By Bettina Experton MD, MPH
By today, anyone invested healthcare IT -- from industry to patient-facing organizations -- will submit comments on the proposed reduction in patient engagement requirements for MU-2 by CMS.
While we recognize that CMS must be responsive to provider concerns to possibly taxing regulations, we believe that CMS also has a duty to ensure that patients are able to exercise the legal right they have to access their health care data under HIPAA. We believe that reducing the requirements for patient engagement to a single patient per year does not strike an appropriate balance. A threshold of a single patient is so nominal that it is the equivalent of eliminating the requirement in its entirety, in effect removing the near-term solution for interoperability with consumer mediated exchange.
By removing the V/D/T (view/download/transmit) requirement, CMS can be seen to be “information blocking” – which HHS has accused providers of doing when they do not share data. In this environment, CMS should be encouraging consumer-mediated methods for data exchange that give consumers a work-around for providers inability – or unwillingness – to share data.
At Humetrix, we strongly believe that safe and cost-effective care requires the transmission of records from providers to patients, given the current lack of provider-to-provider exchange. Mobile technologies like Humetrix' iBlueButton are a near-term solution to the challenges associated with the use of patient portals for the purpose of health record access and exchange, as they allow patients to immediately receive, view, and aggregate their EHR summaries pushed to their app on their mobile devices using DIRECT messaging at the point of care.
iBlueButton incorporates all existing EHR standards as well as access to federal program Blue Button data, and give patients a convenient means to easily and securely receive, view, and aggregate clinic and hospital discharge summary records from most 2014 certified EHRs on their mobile devices. With iBlueButton, Medicare beneficiaries, TRICARE enrollees and Veterans can also pull their Blue Button records offered by these federal programs which can be aggregated by the app with their other EHR data pushed to their app by their provider EMRs.
Apps like iBlueButton, that put the patient in control of their own data, are the true solutions to the lack of EHR interoperability and information blocking on the provider side. CMS should consider the current state of the technology market, the availability of tools – especially mobile technology – that will turn on information flow across the healthcare system and communicate the importance of adopting these solutions to providers in lieu of moving backward with the proposed revision to the patient engagement requirement of the Stage 2 Meaningful use rule. Doing otherwise puts CMS in the position of "information blocking."
To read our response to CMS, please click here.
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