Health Records Firm Epic and About 60 Client Hospitals Object to Data Sharing Rules Supported by Apple

Health records firm Epic Systems and some 60 client hospitals are objecting to a proposed U.S. government policy that would make it easier for patients to share medical records data with apps, an initiative supported by Apple and other tech companies (via CNBC).


Proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in 2019, the modified data sharing rules would allow patients to share private clinical data from their healthcare providers and make it more accessible to health apps via APIs.

Currently, patients often have difficulty trying to obtain their information, with clinical data stored on physical media and processed through medical record software marketed to hospitals by the likes of Epic. According to one report, an Epic installation can cost upwards of $1 billion for a major health system to implement.

Yet in a letter to the HHS Secretary Alex Azar, Epic and signatories argue that the pending initiative on interoperability will be "overly burdensome on our health system and will endanger patient privacy."

Instead, Epic's letter recommends changes to the proposed rules, including extra clarity around health information related to family members and a longer timeline for the "development of new technology required by the rule," up from 1 year to 3 years.
"While we support HHS' goal of empowering patients with their health data and reducing costs through the 21st Century Cures Act, we are concerned that ONC's Proposed Rule on interoperability will be overly burdensome on our health system and will endanger patient privacy. Specifically, the scope of regulated data, the timeline for compliance, and the significant costs and penalties will make it extraordinarily difficult for us to comply."
A spokesperson for HHS told CNBC that it had received the letter. "We appreciate all stakeholder feedback as we continue to finalize the rules," they said. "Our ultimate goal is to ensure that patients are able to easily access their electronic medical records."

Some health IT experts told the news outlet that the letter has not been signed by some of the largest health systems in the Epic ecosystem, and called their absence "significant."
"Their absence represents a thundering silence," said David Brailer, the first National Health Information Technology Coordinator, appointed by George W. Bush. "Many health systems are quietly discussing how the data access and data fluidity actually benefits them in the long-run."
Apple, Microsoft and Google recently joined a call with non-profit Carin Alliance to discuss ways to get the rule finalized. As noted by CNBC, the tech firms favor the rules, partly because greater interoperability between systems that store medical records could help them move into the $3.5 trillion health care sector.

Apple has progressively worked to break into the health industry in recent years. At the beginning of 2018, the company launched a Health Records service to increase the portability of health records and make them available across participating hospitals and clinics. The idea was to allow patients to download their health records to iOS devices and then easily share them with other practitioners.

By August of the same year, Apple's Health Records feature allowed iOS users to access their medical records from more than 75 different hospitals and medical providers in the United States.


This article, "Health Records Firm Epic and About 60 Client Hospitals Object to Data Sharing Rules Supported by Apple" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Apple to Participate in Meeting Advocating for Better Patient Access to Health Info

Representatives for Apple and Microsoft will be participating in a meeting with the Carin Alliance that's focused on making it easier for patients to access and share their medical information, reports CNBC.

The meeting will focus on efforts to push a rule change proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services that would promote medical data interoperability.


Ricky Bloomfield, a member of Apple's health team who formerly served as Duke University's Director of Mobile Strategy, will participate in the meeting by phone, according to a list of attendees published today [PDF].

Those who are in support of the change want to modernize patient access to data, as it continues to be common for medical facilities to provide health records via CD or Fax, which makes it difficult for people to switch providers and healthcare systems. From a PDF describing talking points for the meeting:
It's imperative to note how important and time sensitive aggregated health information across multiple provider and health plan systems can be for patients going through catastrophic events. This information is essential for patients as they consider options such as treatment planning, consenting to surgical procedures, exploring and enrolling in clinical trials, and matters of continuity of care, examples including expediting an urgent second opinion, appealing insurance denials for standard of care treatments prescribed by patient's board-certified physicians, as well as having all pertinent information when it comes to advance care planning, palliative care, and matters of end of life. Data access is a matter of patient safety, better outcomes, improved costs, and often life or death.
Apple has been working to make health data more accessible for patients with its Health Records feature that is designed to allow iOS users to access their medical records from participating hospitals and medical providers. Apple has partnered with hundreds of providers in the United States, allowing iPhone users to sync their medical data to the iOS Health app.


This article, "Apple to Participate in Meeting Advocating for Better Patient Access to Health Info" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums