• Julie Barnes

April 1, 2022

Maverick's Update

Only What Matters In Health Information Policy

No one likes to be played a fool... so we caution you to be careful on this April Fool’s Day when you pick up an Oreo cookie. Is that really a delicious creamy filling or toothpaste? It can be confusing -- like when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on national t.v. but the sound was off. We know now that that uncomfortable scene was NOT part of the Academy’s Please Watch The Oscars Plan, but it wasn’t clear at first. Starting today, health IT developers are going to make it clear that they are complying with federal rules about how to properly use and store digital health information. We explain more about why these rules are no joke in the One Thoughtful Paragraph below.

We assure you that these news items are not a hoax:

  • Scheduling a doctor’s appointment will be so easy! Google announced that it will allow patients to view appointment availability for participating healthcare providers directly from its search page, with initial rollout with CVS’ MinuteClinic.

  • Doctors will make house calls! Florida Blue Medicare will partner with Emcara Health to offer house calls from primary care providers to members throughout Florida and access in-home care services, including exams, tests, vaccinations, and imaging.

  • No more capitalism in health care! While that headline may be a slight exaggeration, we couldn’t help but notice that the MedPAC chair is arguing that the healthcare markets are so out of control that it is time to cap prices. This is the same week the news broke about a cancer patient being charged nearly half a million dollars by an air ambulance company when no one disputes that he was too sick to fly commercial.

One Thoughtful Paragraph

Just because it is April Fool’s Day, HHS will not appreciate health information technology vendors joking around about their compliance with the Health IT Certification rules. So-called “Health IT Developers” are subject to these rules -- that is, any company (like Greenway Health, Epic, Cerner, eClinicalWorks, and so many others) that creates software and technology that uses and stores patient health data. These rules impact not only the creators of electronic health record systems, but patient portal and e-prescription developers and companies that work on quality reporting and clinical decision tools. This Health IT Certification Program, run by the HHS Office of National Coordinator of Health IT (ONC), is voluntary -- but hospitals and healthcare providers must use ONC-certified E.H.R. systems to receive Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments -- so that makes certification pretty mandatory to do business in America’s healthcare system. Which is nice, because these rules require companies to send important health information to wherever it needs to go, as quickly as possible, so that patients and providers are fully informed when they need care. Starting today, organizations with ONC-certified products must declare “we’re compliant!” or “we’re not compliant, sorry, we’re working on it!” It is the first step, after many years of discussion and preparation, to create a national standard for the secure and fast exchange of health data. With the modernization of the healthcare system moving at a fast clip, this is just the beginning of making sure that all health IT systems are keeping up with the highest standards. Next, we need to make sure that Big Tech companies (which, so far, aren't generally considered Health IT Developers) are also not fooling around with our health data.

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