Bringing Interoperability into Focus

April 24, 2020

At Surescripts, we take our role helping medical professionals serve patients very seriously. Everyone across the Surescripts Network Alliance is committed to supporting them to prevent further spread of COVID-19. It is truly an “all-hands on deck” situation.

This week, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) made important announcements about their information blocking rules. The ONC Cures Act Final Rule will be published in the federal register on May 1, 2020, kicking off its compliance timeline. The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released a proposed rule amending its civil monetary penalties for information blocking, kicking off a 60-day comment period. CMS announced six month delays to implementation and enforcement of certain provisions of the Interoperability and Patient Access Final Rule to ensure healthcare resources are fully committed to overcoming the pandemic.

As our CEO Tom Skelton shared, a trusted nationwide health information network has never been more critical than it is today, as the entire healthcare system is focused on combating the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re hearing from participants across the Surescripts Network Alliance that the need for timely and accurate health information has never been greater. While we’ve been focused on delivering true interoperability and information sharing for nearly 20 years, the pandemic has brought this need into sharp focus.

Take for instance, the fact that many pharmacies are adjusting their operating hours or closing. It’s critical that these updates are reflected in our pharmacy directories, so prescribers don’t inadvertently route needed prescriptions to a pharmacy that may be closed or offline.

Or consider the fact that needed medications may not be available or may be too expensive for a patient who is no longer working. Their prescriber can use our price transparency tool, at the point of prescribing (even during a telehealth visit), to find an affordable, available alternative.

And, as more and more temporary healthcare facilities are opening across the country, Surescripts is working with The Sequoia Project, eHealth Exchange, and Audacious Inquiry (Ai) on PULSE, the Patient Unified Lookup System for Emergencies, to help providers reach Carequality participants and obtain clinical records for patients.

The final rule on Interoperability, Information Blocking and the ONC Health IT Certification Program is intended to clarify and help realize the goals of the 21st Century Cures Act, which was enacted with bipartisan support in 2016.

Surescripts supports the goal of this rule to support seamless and secure access, exchange, and use of electronic health information. At Surescripts, we are optimistic about the future and about continuing to work with ONC and our customers to support the secure exchange of health information to improve patient safety, lower costs and ensure quality care.

To learn more about how the Surescripts Network Alliance is adapting and expanding to enable greater interoperability across healthcare, take a look at our 2019 National Progress Report.  

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