Cerner took an indirect stance against Epic by backing the ONC interoperability rule on Tuesday.
The back-and-forth between EHR vendors, health organizations, and the federal government regarding the Office of the National Coordinator’s proposed rule on interoperability and information blocking took another turn on Tuesday when Cerner Chairman and CEO Brent Shafer addressed the matter on an earnings conference call.
“For several decades, Cerner has been a trusted steward of health information and a leader in the pursuit of data interoperability,” said Shafer. “We have been a vocal proponent of the 21st Century Cures Act, and we look forward to continuing our work with the ONC, clients, and other key stakeholders to ensure the secure flow of information across disparate systems and health care entities.”
Two weeks ago, Epic CEO Judy Faulkner urged hospital executives via email to take a stand against the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) proposed regulations that are intended to make it easier to share medical information.
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“ONC’s Proposed Rule could negatively affect patients and health care organizations,” Faulkner wrote in the email obtained by CNBC. “HHS needs to hear from you, so they understand that you are feel these issues are important. Very little time is left.”
“We are concerned that health care costs will rise, that care will suffer, and that patients and their family members will lose control of their confidential health information,” Faulkner continued.
Proposed in February 2019, the rule supports patients accessing and sharing their electronic health information, allowing them the ability to coordinate their own healthcare.
The rule also takes a strong stance against information blocking and it aims to hold health IT developers, such as Cerner and Epic, accountable as a condition of certification.
“We believe it is wrong to ask patients striving to get better to manage a collection of faxes, PDFs and paper-filled shopping bags,” Shafer continued. “It is wrong to ask providers to leave their workflows to review and leverage relevant patient information. It is wrong to waste hundreds of billions of dollars on the highest administrative costs in the world when we are in the middle of an affordability crisis in U.S. healthcare.”
Last week CMS Administrator Seema Verma addressed the EHR vendors who opposed the rule, not by name, at the Centers for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight’s (CCIIO’s) Industry Day.
“We have made it clear to providers that they don’t own a patient’s data and they must give it to their patients,” said Verma last Wednesday.
“I want to extend that point to the entire industry,” she continued. “The sort of consumer-oriented revolution that will make the health care system more affordable and accessible is undermined by those bad actors throughout the system that continue to guard the status quo because it’s in the interest of their short-term profits.”
“The short-sightedness of such efforts is deeply troubling, considering broad frustration with the status quo is the fuel that drives calls for the destruction of the entire private health care system,” Verma said. “This self-serving mentality must be immediately and permanently retired.”
Shafer noted that Cerner has been an advocate of the proposed rule because he believes it’s the right thing to do and healthcare is too important to remain the same.
“We are going to continue being a positive voice for change in this industry,” Shafer concluded. “Access to the ‘right information at the right time in the right place’ continues to drive our advocacy in Washington and the global markets we serve.”
After the release of the aforementioned email, Epic posted a rare statement on its website stating the company agreed with the ONC to support patient data access. However, the vendor said the proposed rule needs to be carefully crafted to protect patient privacy.
“We have always, and will always, support patients’ right to use their data as they see fit,” the company stated. “However, it is the role of government to ensure that patients have the information they need to make those decisions knowledgeably, like they have for nutrition and food or labels in the clothes they buy. Patients must be fully informed about how apps will use their data, and apps and other companies must be held accountable to honor the promises they made to patients.”
Source: EHR Intelligence