- While good in its intentions, CMS’ new MyHealthEData Initiative is short on specific actions to implement the plan, former Vice President Joe Biden writes in Fortune.
- The initiative, unveiled earlier this month at HIMSS18, aims to increase interoperability among EHRs and PHRs and give patients greater control of their health records, including a upgraded personal health record used by Medicare beneficiaries known as Blue Button 2.0.
- Biden offers suggestions on how to ensure such changes deliver better outcomes, such as automatically sharing data with patients and care teams and alerting patients when they qualify for a clinical trial.
Adoption of EHRs was expected to solve a host of problems — from reducing medical errors to streamlining collection of data for research and improving care coordination. However, lack of interoperability has stunted that promise. Part of that has had to do with technical challenges, but it is also due to technology vendors blocking information to protect proprietary data and market share.
During HIMSS, CMS Administrator Seema Verma chided hospitals for information blocking. “Let me be crystal clear, the days of finding creative ways to trap patients in your system must end,” she said. “It’s not acceptable to limit patient records or prevent them and their doctor for seeing their complete history outside of a particular healthcare system.”
White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner reinforced that message at the meeting, saying the Trump administration is committed to interoperability of health records.
But the process is moving too slowly, argues Biden, who spearheaded the Cancer Moonshot during the Obama administration and now co-chairs the Biden Cancer Initiative. He recommends four specific actions HHS should take to spur data sharing and interoperability:
- Require providers to give patients their complete medical record in electronic form within 24 hours of a request and hold those who fail to do so accountable for data blocking under the 21st Century Cures Act;
- Direct the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation to invest in a dynamic patient data system that coalesces data from disparate systems into a uniform patient data portal;
- Expand government partnerships with EHR vendors that participate in Sync for Science, including launching new pilot groups, starting with cancer; and
- Encourage the National Cancer Institute to partner with designated NCI-comprehensive cancer centers and patient groups to create a cancer data trust.
Expanding data sharing and speeding interoperability would impact patients across the disease spectrum — not just cancer patients.