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Last year, medical records opened up to patients. This year, they’re opening up to the nation.

Before the ball drops on New Year’s Eve, electronic health care record vendors will have to provide tools to easily pull big batches of patient data from their systems. Just as information blocking rules gave individual patients the ability to access their medical records, this next round of federal rules gives a framework for sharing insights — within a health system, or with trusted partners — about groups of patients that reflect different populations.


“[This] really for the first time ever allows you the ability to do true comparisons between providers, with what I would call apples to apples data,” said Don Rucker, the former national coordinator for health information technology who spearheaded the tools. By combining standardized outcomes information — say, on blood glucose levels for patients with diabetes — with claims data in the same format, it will be easier than ever to see the bang a patient gets for their buck at different providers. “I believe that will be, over time, utterly transformative.”

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