Catch up on this week’s digital health news.
FTC Charges Surescripts with Monopolizing E-prescription Market
On Wednesday, the Federal Trade Commission announced it’s plan to charge the e-prescription company Surescripts with illegal monopolization. The commission has accused Surescripts of using aggressive loyalty contracts, threats, and multihoming tactics to keep hold of over 95% of the e-prescription market for over a decade. In a public statement Bureau of Competition Director Bruce Hoffman explained: “Surescripts’s illegal contracts denied customers and, ultimately, patients, the benefits of competition – including lower prices, increased output, thriving innovation, higher quality, and more customer choice. Through this litigation, we hope to eliminate the anticompetitive conduct, open the relevant markets to competition, and redress the harm that Surescripts’s conduct has caused.”
Humana Launches Virtual Primary Care Health Plan
Humana is partnering with telehealth company Doctor on Demand to provide patients with a virtual primary care health plan. The plan will enable access to a primary care physician, preventive care, urgent care, and behavioral health through video visits. In a released statement, Chris Hunter, Humana’s Group and Military Segment President shared: “Through virtual care delivery, On Hand gives employers the opportunity to affordably offer healthcare benefits to employees without sacrificing comprehensive, quality care.” The plan boasts low costs for its members, with $0 copays for virtual primary care visits and a $5 copay for labs and prescriptions.
ONC Releases Second Draft of Trusted Exchange Framework
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has begun moving forward with implementing a framework designed to improve data sharing between health information networks. The framework outlines policies, procedures, and technical standards necessary to exchange patient records and health information between providers, state and regional health information exchanges and federal agencies. Adjustments were made in response to stakeholder comments. Key changes include a revision of the purposes for which information can be exchanged, a technical framework for qualified health IT networks, and extending timelines for entities to comply with changes that will be required by the data sharing agreement.
HHS Extends Comment Period for Proposed Interoperability Rules
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has extended the comment period for two proposed interoperability rules for 30 more days. The move comes after industry groups such as the American Medical Association and the Electronic Health Records Association urged the HHS to provide extensions, noting the complexities of both rules. The ONC proposed rule outlines exceptions to data blocking and details fines associated with the practice. The CMS proposed rule would require health entities such as Medicare Advantage Organizations, Medicaid managed care plans, and others to implement, test, and monitor published FHIR-based APIs to make patient claims and other health information available to patients through third-party applications. Stakeholders have until June 3rd to submit comments.