In Survey, Many Healthcare Execs Unfamiliar With New Health Data Access And Sharing Rules

A new survey concludes that many health IT executives are not too familiar with new federal regulations which, among other things, require that patients have more access to their health records and forbid providers from hampering health data sharing across networks. Arguably, these results raise questions as to how seriously health execs take patient data sharing and interoperability as a whole.

As readers may know, CMS recently released new regulations under the 21st Century Cures Act, which became law in 2016. The regulations ban information blocking and expand patient access to their healthcare information. These rules apply to any organization handling patient medical records, notes Accenture, which did the research.

To conduct the survey, Accenture reached out to 75 chief information officers, chief technology officers and VPs of information technology at U.S. healthcare providers and health plans in organizations with more than $1 billion in annual revenues.

The consulting giant found that one in five executives surveyed in leadership positions at U.S. healthcare organizations said they were “very familiar” with the new regulations, 53% reported being somewhat familiar with them, 12% “vaguely familiar” and 17% completely unaware of the new rules.

Healthcare payers seemed to be more up to date on these issues. Accenture found that 26% of payer execs were “very familiar” with these regulations, compared with 16% of providers. In addition, 26% of payer leaders reported being “very prepared” while just 5% of providers were as confident.

That being said, the results aren’t that surprising given that few of the executives think the regulations will make big waves. All told, 40% of respondents said the new requirements will have little or no impact on IT operations within their organization, and 30% said these rules would have little impact on their capacity to meet patient and customer needs.

To prepare for compliance with the rules, which will be required by 2020, Accenture recommends that health leaders take the following steps:

  • Making sure that their tech and compliance leaders are familiar with the new regs
  • Assessing and analyzing their current interoperability capabilities
  • Complete gap analyses and develop plans to address gaps found over 12 to 18 months
  • Communicating about the new rules to help healthcare professionals and consumers adapt to them

To be fair, the fact that Accenture respondents weren’t up to date on the CMS regs doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t consider them important. They may feel that their long-term efforts to address interoperability and health data accessibility are mature enough to meet CMS goals more or less as-is.

That being said, it still seems a bit odd to find out that leaders in $1b+ revenue healthcare organizations are this hands-off when it comes to any federal regulation attempt. Do they know something we don’t know?

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.