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Comment Period Extended for Proposed Interoperability Rule

Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced it is extending the public comment period by 30 days for two proposed regulations aimed at promoting the interoperability of HIT and enabling patients to electronically access their health information. The new deadline for the submission of comments—June 3, 2019—will allow additional time for the public to review the proposed regulations.

The extension of the public comment period coincides with a release by the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) of the second draft of the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement, along with a related Notice of Funding Opportunity. HHS also released of a set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) from the Office for Civil Rights.

The FAQs address the HIPAA right of access as it relates to apps designated by individual patients and application programming interfaces used by a health care provider’s EHR system. The FAQs clarify that once protected health information has been shared with a third-party app, as directed by the individual, the HIPAA covered entity will not be liable under HIPAA for subsequent use or disclosure of electronic protected health information, provided the app developer is not itself a business associate of a covered entity or other business associate.

On February 11, 2019, HHS announced two proposed rules to support the seamless and secure access, exchange, and use of electronic health information (with Federal Register publication on March 4, 2019). The rules would increase choice and competition while fostering innovation that promotes patient electronic access to and control over their health information. Together the proposed rules address both technical and health care industry factors that create barriers to the interoperability of health information and limit a patient’s ability to access essential health information. Addressing those challenges will help to drive an interoperable HIT infrastructure across systems, enabling health care providers and patients to have access to health data when and where it is needed.

This extension responds to requests from a variety of stakeholders, including health care provider organizations and industry representatives. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and ONC understand that both rules include a range of issues having major effects on health care. The extension of the public comment deadline will maximize the opportunity for meaningful input and further the overall objective to obtain public input on the proposed provisions to move the health care ecosystem in the direction of interoperability.

For more information on the ONC proposed rule visit www.healthit.gov/NPRM.

For a fact sheet on the CMS proposed rule (CMS-9115-P), visit www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/cms-advances-interoperability-patient-access-health-data-through-new-proposals.

To view the CMS proposed rule (CMS-9115-P), visit www.cms.gov/Center/Special-Topic/Interoperability-Center.html.

— Source: Health and Human Services