HHS announces pledges on health data interoperability

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The federal government may finally be getting serious about promoting interoperability in health records.

Las Vegas-The federal government may finally be getting serious about promoting interoperability in health records.

Sylvia Burwell, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, announced yesterday that major electronic health record.

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(EHR) vendors that provide more than 90% of the EHR technology in use in U.S. hospitals-along with five large, private healthcare systems, and numerous professional associations and stakeholder groups-have promised to implement three core commitments designed to improve the flow of health information to consumers and healthcare providers.

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Burwell made the announcement during her keynote address to the 2016 conference of the Health Information Management Systems Society, held in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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The commitments include:


·      Helping consumers to easily and securely gain access to their electronic health information, direct it to any desired location, learn how their information can be shared and used, and be assured that this information will be effectively and safely used to benefit their health and that of their community.

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o   Many of the biggest health IT developers, including Cerner, Epic, and Meditech, have committed to using standardized application programming interfaces and a single shared standard for communicating with one another, so that user-friendly resources, like smartphone and tablet apps, can quickly come to marke tand be compatible with one another

·       Helping providers to share individuals’ health information for care with other providers and their patients whenever permitted by law, and not block electronic health information (defined as knowingly and unreasonably interfering with information sharing)

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·      Implementing federally recognized, national interoperability standards, policies, guidance, and practices for electronic health information, and adopting best practices, including those related to privacy and security.

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“Unlocking data is a key part of our efforts to transform healthcare system into one that works better for all Americans,” Burwell said.