Sequoia Project Convenes Industry on Information Blocking Policies

The Sequoia Project, a nonprofit dedicated to solving health IT interoperability for the public good, is launching a new workgroup for the Interoperability Matters cooperative focused on information blocking. Launched in October 2018, Interoperability Matters is a public-private cooperative, with member and public events focused on addressing the key remaining issues that hinder nationwide health IT interoperability. The initiative is open to broad private and public sector participation, and this new workgroup will collectively discuss, evaluate and comment on the information blocking requirements and exceptions outlined in the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s (ONC) proposed rule published in the Federal Register on Monday, Mar. 4, 2019.

Mariann Yeager
Mariann Yeager

“We’ve seen a seismic shift towards greater interoperability in the past three years. True, meaningful interoperability is expanding and hospitals and health systems across the country are beginning to share health records at an unprecedented level. But we can’t declare victory yet considering there are still barriers, including the practices that are perceived to impede information sharing,” said Mariann Yeager, CEO of The Sequoia Project. “We’ve reached a tipping point where discussions of interoperability – and the remaining interoperability challenges – are now mainstream and everyone wants a seat at the table. We’re happy to make room for more voices.”

Hundreds of volunteers came forward this winter to offer their expertise from across the entire healthcare continuum, including many organizations that have not previously worked with The Sequoia Project. The expansive interest illustrates the wide impact that the information blocking issue and associated regulations have on health systems, payers, technology vendors and patients.

Interoperability Matters and Information Blocking Workgroup Forum Kickoffs

A Sequoia Project-member only Interoperability Matters launch event was held February 21st. Registration is now open for a free, public Interoperability Matters launch event to be held March 14th at 2:00 pm ET.

In addition, both Sequoia Project-members and non-members are encouraged to join the Information Blocking Forum kickoff on March 19 at 3 p.m. ET.  This public forum will provide an overview of the latest proposed information blocking policies and regulations from ONC and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and provide opportunity for initial community input to inform the work of The Sequoia Project’s Interoperability Matters information blocking workgroup. It is anticipated that there will be additional Forum meetings as the workgroup proceeds with and finalizes points of comment for ONC and CMS, and for the broader community.

The information blocking workgroup members will meet on a regular basis to identify cross-community perspectives on the complex policy, technical and business issues associated with the recent proposed information blocking policies. Facilitated by Sequoia Project staff, as well as industry experts Steve Gravely, JD of Gravely Group and Mark Segal, PhD, FHIMSS of Digital Health Policy Advisors, LLC, workgroup members will focus on the practical implications of information-sharing practices and share real-world perspectives, including potential unintended consequences to ONC that incorporate perspectives of the from the workgroup and the Information Blocking Forum. They may also subsequently develop resources and plans of action for the healthcare sector to leverage and implement to minimize information blocking.

The cooperative continues to invite more experts from across the healthcare and health IT communities, regardless of any affiliation with Sequoia Project, to share their expertise for consideration for future workgroups by signing up on the website.

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