American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

ACS Submits Comments on CMS and ONC Interoperability Rules

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) submitted comment letters June 3 to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). The letters respond to CMS’ Interoperability and Patient Access proposed rule and ONC’s 21st Century Cures Act: Interoperability, Information Blocking and the ONC Health IT Certification Program proposed rule.

The CMS proposed rule would implement provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act that are intended to enable the useful transfer of patient data through open, secure, standardized, and machine-readable digital formats while easing the provider burden of data exchange. Although the goals of the CMS and ONC proposals are aligned in many ways, the ONC proposes to provide additional incentives for innovation and competition by giving patients and providers secure access to complete health information through updated digital standards and new digital tools. The ONC proposed rule also updates certified electronic health record technology (CEHRT) and addresses information blocking.

The ACS supports the rules’ goals of creating standards to better facilitate the exchange of health information and ease administrative burdens, as well as increasing the types of available digital tools to share and receive health information. However, the ACS' comments encourage ONC and CMS to limit the flow of data to include only relevant and meaningful information to the patient and the provider to avoid the administrative burden of a “data dump,” as well as to require apps to be certified for their clinical and technical logic so that surgeons can be assured that the apps they use are secure and clinically accurate. The ACS also encourages ONC and CMS to address outdated privacy and security regulations given the various possibilities of digital data exchange.

Read the ACS comments on the ONC proposed rule, and on the CMS proposal.