A doctor looks at patients' electronic medical records. Photo: Dominick Reuter/AFP via Getty Images

New federal proposals are hoping to tear down barriers among hospitals, doctors, insurers, health IT companies and patients that prevent the free, secure exchange of patient records and data.

Why it matters: It's 2019. And yet patients still can't easily obtain all of their medical information, and doctors still can't always receive or share important patient data with other clinicians.

The big picture: The public subsidized the multi-billion-dollar effort for hospitals, doctors and other providers to move from paper documents to electronic health records.

However:

  • Patients routinely complain about how difficult it is to collect their own records.
  • Health IT companies, hospitals and other providers have been found to engage in "information blocking," which includes practices like charging high fees to transfer records or denying the exchange of records between providers to control patient referrals.

What's next: The new proposed rules seek to alleviate these problems.

  • "Information blocking" is more specifically defined, although there are exceptions.
  • If hospitals want to stay in Medicare, for example, they will have to let other necessary doctors know when patients are admitted or discharged.
  • Patients with certain health plans can more easily get their claims data as soon as 2020.

Go deeper: The pitfalls of electronic health records

Go deeper

SurveyMonkey poll: Trump improves, but not enough

Trump and Biden during the final debate. Photo: Xinhua/Liu Jie via Getty Images

President Trump's final debate performance exceeded Americans' expectations, but it wasn't enough to shift the dynamics that left him trailing Joe Biden across most measures, according to a new Axios-SurveyMonkey poll.

What they're saying: "Liar" was the word used most by debate watchers to describe Trump's performance, followed by "lies," "strong," "presidential" and "childish." "Presidential" was the word used most to describe Biden's performance, followed by "liar," "weak," "expected" and "honest."

Hunter Biden saga dominates online debate

Data: NewsWhip; Table: Axios Visuals

The mainstream media turned away. But online, President Trump's charges about Hunter Biden were by far the dominant storyline about the final presidential debate, according to exclusive NewsWhip data provided to Axios.

  • Coverage of business dealings by Joe Biden's son — and pre-debate allegations by one of his former business associates, Tony Bobulinski — garnered more than twice as much online activity (likes, comments, shares) as the runner-up.