Stakeholders Must Work Together to Make Patients and Families True Partners in Improving Health, Ness Urges, as Administration Issues Final Rule for Meaningful Use Incentive Program

Statement of Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families

“In June, the National Partnership and the Consumer Partnership for eHealth expressed ‘deep disappointment’ in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposal to allow health care providers to meet their obligations by showing only that one patient used online access to her or his health record or communicated electronically with his or her provider. We warned that such a modest requirement could ‘undermine and thwart progress on patient and family engagement.’ We remain dismayed that CMS decided to perpetuate that minimal requirement until 2017, and fear that it constitutes a lost opportunity at a crucial time to help patients and families access, understand and use their health records in ways that will allow them to better manage their care.

There is no question this new rule signals clearly that consumer engagement is the future of health care, and that digital health information is the foundation for that engagement. It is also very clear that consumer expectations for access to their own health data are strong – and growing even stronger by the day. We will redouble our efforts with our many allies in government and in the provider, payer and other stakeholder communities to accelerate this data access for patients and their families, and expand work with our partners in the GetMyHealthData Campaign to make it easier for consumers to request and use their health data, in collaboration with their providers.

Delivery system reform cannot succeed without active engagement of patients and family caregivers, and online access is a critical tool in making patients and family caregivers true and equal partners in improving health. We look forward to recommending ways to continue advancing patient access and use of electronic health information in the context of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). We all want and need our health care system to be able to deliver high-quality, high-value care, so we must work together to ensure that consumers can access and use their digital health data in meaningful ways.”

About the National Partnership

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, reproductive health and rights, access to quality, affordable health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at NationalPartnership.org.

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