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CMS Administrator Seema Verma calls for an end to physician fax machines by 2020

CMS is also seeking Blue Button 2.0 app developers, Verma says at second interoperability forum hosted by the ONC.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are working together to realize a shared vision for a health ecosystem that sees the free flow of information between patient, provider and payer, CMS Administrator Seema Verma said Monday during the ONC's Interoperability Forum in Washington, D.C.

Verma set a goal for digital health information to replace the current use of fax machines in physician offices to send patient information.

To this end, CMS is seeking developers, and already has an estimated 600, interested in building consumer-friendly applications for Medicare beneficiaries to connect their claims data to the applications, services and research programs they trust.

"If I could challenge developers on a mission, it's to help make doctors' offices a fax free zone by 2020," Verma said to applause. 

CMS is kicking off its inaugural Blue Button 2.0 Developer Conference on August 13. 

Blue Button API has data for 53 million beneficiaries in Medicare Parts A, B and D.

"As head of CMS, one of my main missions is to break down barriers to interoperability," Verma said.

While we live in an age of wonder at technological advancements such as fitness apps and precision medicine tailored to an individual's genetic code, health information technology remains far behind all of the major industries, Verma said.

Healthcare remains in a 1990s time warp, she said.

Instead of making work easier for physician, electronic health records are contributing to their burnout, Verma said. Physicians are still recording their notes on paper.

Too often patients are told their data can't be shared with another provider. But systems refused to share data because of the fear the patient will be poached, Verma said.

"We can keep data secure, while making it available to patients," she said.

To avoid payment reductions, physicians and hospitals will have to give patients electronic access to their health records.

Verma said she's also called on insurers to release their claims data so that health information is no longer locked in siloed systems.

Interoperability imagines a world in which medical decisions are fully informed by medical history; health history follows consumers wherever they go; third parties can leverage EHRs; data is used not only to treat, but to prevent illnesses; and researchers are using the information to develop cures.

Verma first unveiled new interoperability efforts at HIMSS18 in March, when she and Jared Kushner, director of The White House Office of American Innovation, promoted interoperability and the MyHealthEData initiative.

It's about driving a new era of digital health, Verma said, liberating data to put patients in charge of their healthcare.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
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