Trump Administration Finalizes Rule to Grant Patients More Control over Health Data

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speaks to media outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, Monday, March, 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo

The Health and Human Services Department (HHS) announced on Monday that it had finalized two rules that grant patients increased access to their healthcare data.

The two rules, which were issued by the HHS Office of the National Coordination for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), implement standards, as stipulated by the 21st Century Cures Act, and support President Donald Trump’s MyHealthEData initiative. The Trump administration designed MyHealthEData to empower patients by granting them greater access to health information so that they could make better healthcare decisions.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement Monday that the two rules grant patients greater control over their health care.

Azar said:

President Trump is delivering on his vision for healthcare that is affordable, personalized, and puts patients in control. From the start of our efforts to put patients and value at the center of our healthcare system, we’ve been clear: Patients should have control of their records, period. Now that’s becoming a reality. These rules are the start of a new chapter in how patients experience American healthcare, opening up countless new opportunities for them to improve their own health, find the providers that meet their needs, and drive quality through greater coordination.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma said:

The days of patients being kept in the dark are over,. “In today’s digital age, our health system’s data sharing capacity shouldn’t be mired in the stone age. Unfortunately, data silos continue to fragment care, burden patients, and providers, and drive up costs through repeat tests. Thanks to the leadership of President Trump, these rules begin a new chapter by requiring insurance plans to share health data with their patients in a format suitable for their phones or other device of their choice. We are holding payers to a higher standard while protecting patient privacy through secure access to their health information. Patients can expect improved quality and better outcomes at a lower cost.

The ONC’s Addressing Interoperability and Information Blocking rule establishes secure application programming interfaces (APIs) to give patients access and control over their electronic health information. Software developers use APIs to develop smartphone applications. This rule would allow patients to securely and easily access their electronic health information from their provider’s medical record using the smartphone app of their choice.

The CMS’s Interoperability and Patient Access rule builds on the ONC rule by requiring health plans across Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, CHIP, and federal exchange health insurance plans to share health insurance claims data with patients. The Patient Access rule API will allow patients to access their data through any third-party application they choose.

Breitbart News reported last week that Democrat megadonor and healthcare executive Judy Faulkner has tried to block the Trump rules to grant patients greater control over their healthcare data.

Kenneth Mandl, the healthcare director at Boston Children’s Hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School, and Isaac S. Kohane, a biomedical professor at Harvard Medical School, wrote an op-ed in January discussing how the Trump healthcare rules would improve Americans’ health care. They wrote:

Interoperability, along with better and more affordable information flow, will benefit patients, improve outcomes, and reduce costs and waste by the health system. The proposed rule would also meaningfully enforce individuals’ right to access digital copies of their health records, something that was theoretically possible under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Mandl and Kohane wrote that the rules would lead to “better and safe care.”

Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.

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