At the February 2016 Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference, U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell announced that companies that provide 90 percent of electronic health records used by U.S. hospitals, healthcare systems who serve patients in 46 states, and more than a dozen leading professional associations and stakeholder groups have taken an Interoperability Pledge to implement three core commitments that will improve the flow of health information to consumers and healthcare providers. The three commitments that support health information exchange and interoperability among their electronic health records are:

Consumer Access: To help consumers easily and securely access their electronic health information, direct it to any desired location, learn how their information can be shared and used, and be assured that this information will be effectively and safely used to benefit their health and that of their community.

No Information Blocking: To help providers share individuals’ health information for care with other providers and their patients whenever permitted by law, and not block electronic health information (defined as knowingly and unreasonably interfering with information sharing).

Standards: Implement federally recognized, national interoperability standards, policies, guidance, and practices for electronic health information, and adopt best practices including those related to privacy and security.

According to HHS, as of 2014, nearly all hospitals and three-quarters of physicians use certified electronic health records. Unfortunately, major challenges remain in securely and accurately exchanging patient health information across electronic health record systems and between providers. While HHS has published a Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap in October 2015, it has not exercised its regulatory authority to require such interoperability.  HHS hopes that these voluntary, public commitments will continue to advance the pace and quality of that health information exchange.

The text of the Secretary’s remarks are available, as well as this fact sheet summarizing the Interoperability Pledge and the signatory organizations:

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