Earlier this Spring, the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released 690 pages outlining proposed regulations intended to impose “interoperability” on ONC-certified Electronic Health Records (EHR) and prohibit “information blocking.”
One major bug in this plan: operability is a prerequisite of interoperability and no credible argument can be made that the current crop of HHS-approved EHRs are operating in a manner beneficial to patients and the medical professionals caring for them.
To the contrary, “a months-long joint investigation by KHN and Fortune … found that instead of streamlining medicine, the government’s [$36 billion] EHR initiative has created a host of largely unacknowledged patient safety risks.”
And while there is an ongoing epidemic of unauthorized breaches, punishing doctors for blocking outside access to patient data stored in EHRs seems ill advised.
Tucked in the 690 pages is another perplexing proclamation: “ONC has a unique role in setting the stage for [providing consumers with digestible price information] by establishing the framework to prevent the blocking of price information.”
Put another way, the government agency responsible for the EHR disaster, appears hopeful that they hold the answer to solving the price transparency crisis. What could go wrong?
HHS is seeking comments on their proposals by June 3 (due before 5:00pm Eastern), and your voice is needed! Here’s how you can help.
1) Copy the suggested comments below.
2) Visit https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=HHS-ONC-2019-0002-0001 and paste the comments in the space provided. You can also optionally provide your name and contact information when submitting.
Dear Secretary Azar,
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed rules related to “Interoperability, Information Blocking, and the ONC Health IT Certification Program.”
Continuing the harmful HIT experiment on patients, while moving forward with requirements that further open EHRs to an internet rife with entities seeking to examine, steal or otherwise misuse medical records, is unethical and violates the principles of medical care guided by the Oath of Hippocrates.
Therefore I support the following requests being made by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons:
1) an immediate suspension of all federal penalties levied on medical professionals who refuse to risk patient care and privacy to dangerous ONC-certified Health Information Technology, as well as a suspension of payments to incentivize further adoption or ongoing implementation;
2) a moratorium on federal rulemaking that further promotes the subjugation of patient care and privacy to ONC-certified EHR systems;
3) granting patients full control over use of their individual medical records. This means a patient’s medical records or Electronic Health Information must not be shared electronically (or otherwise) without the patient’s knowledge and consent, except in very limited circumstances (e.g. in situations requiring emergency treatment). And patients should have control over whether their data is entered into electronic records systems that are susceptible to access by bad actors or anyone with whom the patient would not want to share private information.
In addition, the proposal to tie ONC-certified EHRs to price transparency efforts risks further delay in creating an environment that welcomes meaningful transparency. HHS should instead seek answers to this question: “Why is transparency largely missing in American medicine?” It isn’t because of a dearth of federal regulation, but due to decade upon decade of overregulation. When patients are put in the driver’s seat, they demand transparency, and physicians and facilities respond.
The bottom line? HHS efforts should prioritize re-empowering patients, not continue to subjugate them to experimental policies and programs that too often seem designed more for the benefit of bureaucrats and bean counters than patients and those caring for them.
Thank you for speaking out!
You can read the draft of our official AAPS comments to ONC here.
Further Reading: An unparalleled resource explaining “the dangers lurking behind the government’s $36 billion electronic health record experiment” is Big Brother in the Exam Room, by Twila Brase, RN of the Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom, available at: http://BigBrotherintheExamRoom.com.
Twila will be one of the featured speakers at our 76th Annual Meeting, September 18-21, 2019: