Trump Admin Shares Vision for Patient-Centered Health System

March 6, 2018

Jared Kushner and Seema Verma spoke at HIMSS18 about the administration's vision for interoperability and better patient data access.

The Trump administration, led by Jared Kushner, director of the Office of American Innovation, and Seema Verma, administrator of CMS, spoke about its plans to put data in the hands of patients at the annual Healthcare Information Management and Systems Society (HIMSS) conference, held in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The administration announced its new initiative, MyHealthEData, which aims to break down the barriers preventing patients from accessing and controlling their medical records. "Patients should have access and control to share their data with whoever they want, making the patient the center of the health care system," Verma says.

Part of MyHealthEData will include the revival of the Medicare Blue Button initiative, which allows patients to download their health data with the simple click. Blue Button 2.0 is a "developer friendly, standards-based [application programming interface]," says Verma. She says it will aim to connect Medicare beneficiary claims data to secure applications, which will give patients control over that information. "Blue Button 2.0 will create an ecosystem where tech innovators are competing to serve Medicare beneficiaries."

CMS will also work with states to make Medicaid claims data available through this initiative. Verma called on private insurers to give patients access to their claims data too. All told, Verma promised that the administration will pull every lever that creates an ecosystem where app developers are tailoring products to compete for patients, as part of the MyHealthEData initiative.  She also said another aspect of the MyHealthEData initiative is to ensure physicians are spending less time in front of computers and more time with patients.

Throughout the session, Kushner and Verma harped on the industry's lack of interoperability saying it's a big reason why patients don't have complete access to their data. Kushner says patients often go between health care facilities with their providers unable to get a full picture of the patient's history. "The time is now for every facet of the federal government and the private sector to ensure patient data is shared and communicated seamlessly," Kushner said at the beginning of the session.

Kushner, who was a surprise late addition to the session, talked about the lack alignment between the Military Health System and the Department of Veterans Administration (VA) Health System. He used it as an example of this lack of interoperability in health care. In talking with hundreds of provider and patient advocacy groups, as well as health IT vendors, Kushner said there was an overwhelming consensus: "America needs better patient access to data and interoperability."

In talking about the lack of interoperability in health care, Verma said that EHRs have replaced paper silos with electronic silos. She says when her husband got sick in another state, the doctors treating him didn't have the proper information to give him the best care. Furthermore, they gave her a CD-ROM and paper forms to give to his doctors back in her home state of Indiana.
"The government spent $30 billion EHRs and I left with paper and a CD-ROM," she said.

Verma said the administration won't tolerate data blocking from EHR vendors and health systems. "The days of [these organizations] finding creative ways to trap patients in their system are over," she said. She said the only way to effectively transition to value-based care is if patients and physicians have complete access to clinical and financial data.

Also during the session, Verma vowed to overhaul E&M codes. She said they'll make it so physicians spend less time in front of an EHR and more time with the patient.