Today, under President Trump’s leadership, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposed rule that would improve the electronic exchange of health care data among payers, providers, and patients, and streamline processes related to prior authorization to reduce burden on providers and patients. By both increasing data flow, and reducing burden, this proposed rule would give providers more time to focus on their patients, and provide better quality care.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a harsh light on many longstanding inefficiencies in the health care system—including the lack of data sharing and access. Today’s proposed rule aims to improve this for patients navigating care. The proposed rule would build on the Trump Administration’s Interoperability and Patient Access final rule published by the CMS in May.
“This proposed rule ushers in a new era of quality and lower costs in health care as payors and providers will now have access to complete patient histories, reducing unnecessary care and allowing for more coordinated and seamless patient care. Each element of this proposed rule would play a key role in reducing onerous administrative burden on our frontline providers while improving patient access to health information,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “Prior authorization is a necessary and important tools for payors to ensure program integrity, but there is a better way to make the process work more efficiently to ensure that care is not delayed and we are not increasing adminsitrative costs for the whole system.” Prior authorization is not only a leading source of burden, it is also a primary source of provider burnout, and takes time away from treating patients. If just a quarter of providers took advantage of the new electronic solutions that this proposal would make available, the proposed rule would save between 1 and 5 billion dollars over the next ten years. With the pandemic placing even greater strain on our health care system, the policies in this rule are more vital than ever.”
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The rule would require payers in Medicaid, CHIP and QHP programs to build application programming interfaces (APIs) to support data exchange and prior authorization. APIs allow two systems, or a payer’s system and a third-party app, to communicate and share data electronically Payers would be required to implement and maintain these APIs using the Health Level 7 (HL7) Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard. The FHIR standard is an innovative technology solution that helps bridge the gaps between systems so both systems can understand and use the data they exchange.