- The Washington Times - Monday, February 11, 2019

The Trump administration on Monday said it will require doctors, hospitals and insurance plans operating within federal programs to deliver medical records and claims in an easy-to-use digital format by 2020.

The Health and Human Services Department said the idea is to let 125 million people in Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare plans access their health data on smartphones or other devices.

Seema Verma, administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said many Americans already use their devices to shop, bank or schedule daily tasks.

“We believe that obtaining their health information should be just as convenient, easy and user-friendly,” Ms. Verma said.

The proposed rules say patients should be able to carry their data along with them if they move from one insurance program to another, and that doctors or hospitals that hamper data-sharing will be publicly reported.

Depending on where they live, many patients leave the doctor’s office today with little more than a prescription slip. Under the proposed system, patients would get an electronic record that recaptures everything that happened during their visit and be able to combine that record with follow-ups at other sites.

Patients can go from place to place and say, “Here’s what happened, here’s my entire health care record,” Ms. Verma said.

Physicians, meanwhile, will avoid duplicating their counterparts efforts and get a full picture of a patient’s health.

The proposal calls on the health care industry to use standardized formats, or “application programming interfaces (API),” that are compatible with smartphones.

The administration hopes the effort will prod the private sector to develop apps that help all U.S. patients, while making it easier for doctors and insurers to communicate with each other.

Since 2017, top health officials and Mr. Trump’s son-in-law — White House senior adviser Jared Kushner — have been pushing app developers to help the health sector catch up with the digital age. Roughly 1,500 developers are working on the issue now.

Companies are helping 40 million Medicare beneficiaries share claims data digitally, although Monday’s proposal sets an ambitious target for expanding those efforts.

“This unprecedented step toward a healthcare future where patients are able to obtain and share their health data, securely and privately, with just a few clicks, is just the beginning of a digital data revolution that truly empowers American patients,” Ms. Verma said.

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