Finger print data "We believethat important changes must be made to the rule before it becomesfinal in order to protect the privacy of patients and theirpersonal health information," Epic Systems wrote in a statement.(Image: Shutterstock)

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Think it's going to get easier to get your own patient information and/or share it withapps?

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Guess again—that is, if about 60 health systems, as well as EpicSystems, have their way—as well as several life sciences companies.They've all signed on to a letter opposing Department of Health andHuman Services rules designed to make it easier to share medicalrecords data with patients and apps. In addition, a number oforganizations are reportedly sending their own letters opposing theproposed rules.

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CNBC reports that Epic Systems CEO JudyFaulkner urged the pushback that resulted in the letter, sent toAlex Azar, HHS secretary, opposing proposed rules designed tofacilitate the flow of medical information between health systemsand patients. The rules also aim to make clinical data accessiblethrough application programming interfaces.

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Related: Interoperability may jeopardize consumers' healthcare privacy

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Epic is one of the leading providers of electronichealth record software in the country. According to CNBC,implementation of an EHR software system can cost upwards of $1billion for a major health system.

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Technology companies Apple, Microsoft and Google have come downon the other side of the issue, and along withnonprofit Carin Alliance have discussed ways to get the rulefinalized and released. They're just as self-interested as Epic, ofcourse, since a system that supports greater interoperabilitybetween medical records storage systems could open the door forthem into the $3.5 trillion health care sector.

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According to the letter: "While we support HHS' goal ofempowering patients with their health data and reducing coststhrough the 21st Century Cures Act, we are concerned that ONC'sProposed Rule on interoperability will be overly burdensome on ourhealth system and will endanger patient privacy. Specifically, thescope of regulated data, the timeline for compliance, and thesignificant costs and penalties will make it extraordinarilydifficult for us to comply."

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Epic also provided a statement to CNBC: "There are many healthsystems that have deep concerns regarding the rule, and they'veshared those concerns with HHS. We are supportive of the goals ofthe proposed regulations, but we believe that important changesmust be made to the rule before it becomes final in order toprotect the privacy of patients and their personal healthinformation. We appreciate the work that HHS is doing toincorporate different perspectives and ensure that the final ruleis a good one."

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Among the letter's proposed changes, are "more clarity aroundhealth information related to family members, and a longertimeline—at least 12 months to prepare and 36 months for'development of new technology required by the rule.'"

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Neil Calman, MD, chairman of family medicine at Mount Sinai inNew York and president of the institute for family health, toldCNBC, "There are tens of thousands of health care apps. Gettingthese big computer systems to communicate in a predictable andsecure way took a decade and now people are writing these apps inall different languages. There's no possible way a system that hasbeen in development for decades now could all interface with allthese apps and keep information secure. This needs a lot morethought, and more structure and regulation."

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But some of the largest health systems in the Epic system havenot signed on to the letter, a factor that some health IT expertspoint to as significant.

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"Their absence represents a thundering silence," said DavidBrailer, the first National Health Information TechnologyCoordinator. "Many health systems are quietly discussing how thedata access and data fluidity actually benefits them in the longrun."

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Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter has worked in and written about the financial industry for decades.