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Are You Prepared for Information Blocking and Interoperability Compliance? Here's Help

Analysis  |  By Mandy Roth  
   March 27, 2020

Nonprofit The Sequoia Project offers a free webinar and materials to help organizations prepare for compliance, which will be "resource intensive" for hospitals and healthcare systems.

Although the nation is in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, the clock is set to begin ticking on new compliance mandates related to the final interoperability rules issued by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services nearly three weeks ago. The first significant deadline will occur six months after the rules are published in the Federal Register—something that has not yet occurred.

To help hospitals, healthcare systems, and other stakeholders prepare for what lies ahead, The Sequoia Project, a Vienna, Virginia, public-private nonprofit collaborative focused on interoperability, is offering a free 90-minute webinar, “Information Blocking and Interoperability Final Rules Are Here: Now What?” at noon on Tuesday, March 31. The organization will share an in-depth analysis of the final rule and release materials related to next steps.

"The final rule is here; there's a lot to unpack," says Mariann Yeager, CEO of The Sequoia Project. The webinar, which is open to anyone who registers, will do just that, she says, building on work conducted by the organization over the past year. Much of the effort took place under the auspices of the "Interoperability Matters" workgroup, which issued two reports during 2019 in response to the proposed rules, as well as their implications.

Yeager sees the webinar as the beginning of a new focus for The Sequoia Project. "We want to build a community of practice around understanding [the final rules]," she says. This would involve working through scenarios, sharing best practices, and providing examples of tools and resources.

Complying with the new rules will be "resource intensive," for hospitals and healthcare systems that will have to build new processes into their organizational compliance programs, says Yeager. "It's going to require engagement by executive leadership and taking a careful look at contracts, business practices, technical requirements, release of information practices, and, potentially, pricing," she says. "It is going to be complex, but we think that if there's a good coordinated approach, and a process that folks can pursue, that might help."

HHS released two final interoperability rules on March 9 issued by the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). They are expected to "empower patients around a common aim—giving every American access to their medical information so they can make better healthcare decisions," according to a release issued by CMS. The final ONC rule and the final CMS rule are available online.

“The final rule is here; there's a lot to unpack.”

Mandy Roth is the innovations editor at HealthLeaders.

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