The Trump administration on Monday finalized rules that govern how doctors share Americans’ health records digitally, allowing patients to carry their data from doctor to doctor without clunky paperwork or faxes.
The Department of Health and Human Services said all plans doing business with the federal government must provide records through a safe and secure electronic system — a third-party app, essentially — by 2021.
Officials said patients will be able to have all their records in one place and make better decisions about their care as they change insurers or move within the medical system.
For instance, a person leaving the hospital will get a record of what happened during their stay, according to Seema Verma, administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
President Trump’s top officials boasted that multiple administrations spent billions trying to advance health data-sharing — a concept as interoperability — but weren’t able to streamline the “balkanized” system.
“This is truly a major milestone in a long journey,” Health Secretary Alex Azar told reporters on a conference call.
Mr. Trump was slated to speak on the effort at a major health IT conference in Florida this week, but it was scrapped due to concerns around the coronavirus.
The call offered officials a chance to talk about a health topic besides the virus, which has dominated the news and upended markets, though they were peppered with questions about it anyway.
Mr. Azar said it is “absurd” to think officials can’t do their day jobs while they tackle the coronavirus, which has infected at least 500 Americans and killed more than 20.
“We’re taking COVID-19 very seriously,” Mr. Azar said, referring to the illness caused by the virus.
As officials spoke, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down more than 1,800 points in early trading.
The president fumed over the all-consuming situation ahead of the call.
“The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything within its semi-considerable power (it used to be greater!) to inflame the CoronaVirus situation, far beyond what the facts would warrant,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “Surgeon General, ‘The risk is low to the average American.’ “
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