News | Electronic Medical Records (EMR) | March 01, 2016

HHS Secretary Announces New EHR Interoperability Initiative

Nation’s largest EHR vendors agree to work with administration on improving patient access and provider sharing of protected health information, developing national interoperability standards

HHS Secretary Burwell, EHR interoperability, electronic health records, vendor agreement

March 1, 2016 — Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell announced yesterday that 17 of the nation’s largest electronic health record (EHR) vendors have agreed to work together on new interoperability standards between their systems. The stated goal of the initiative is to provide patients easier access to their own protected health information while allowing it to be shared more easily between providers.

The participating vendors — including Epic Systems, Allscripts, athenahealth, Cerner Corp. and Meditech — provide EHR support to 90 percent of all hospitals in the United States, according to Modern Healthcare. Under the agreement, vendors — and their customers — will focus their efforts in three main areas:

  • Making it easier for patients to access their own electronic health information and transfer it to other providers as needed;
  • Improve sharing capabilities between providers (within HIPAA guidelines) and eliminate blocking of information; and
  • Implementing federally recognized, national interoperability standards, policies, guidance and practices for sharing of electronic health information, including privacy and security concerns.  

The administration will follow up with participants in the fall to check on their progress toward these objectives.

“These commitments are a major step forward in our efforts to support a healthcare system that is better, smarter, and results in healthier people,” said Burwell at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference and exhibition (HIMSS16). “Technology isn’t just one leg of our strategy to build a better healthcare system for our nation, it supports the entire effort. We are working to unlock healthcare data and information so that providers are better informed and patients and families can access their healthcare information, making them empowered, active participants in their own care.”

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