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Get Ready! Information Blocking Deadline April 5


Information Blocking HHS HIPAA Privacy ONC EHR

If you're lost on how to comply with the new data sharing requirements, you're not alone. On April 5, 2021, you must begin complying with the Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT (ONC) rule prohibiting information blocking. In this blog post we will give you a high-level overview of the new rules and what they mean for you.

What is Information Blocking?

Under the final rule, information blocking means a practice that:

  • Except as required by law or covered by an Exception set forth in the final rule, is likely to interfere with access, exchange or use of electronic health information (EHI); and
  • If conducted by a health care provider, such provider knows is unreasonable and is likely to interfere with, prevent or materially discourage access, exchange or use of EHI.

 

What are the Compliance Requirements?

The Information Blocking Rule requires providers to make all EHI available to patients. Because the current electronic common clinical data set (CCDS) is quite limited in what information can be electronically sent, ONC is phasing in this requirement. Between April 5, 2021 and October 6, 2022, patients must have access to the US Core Data for Interoperability (USCDI) data elements. Importantly, the new components that must be available are the following: 

  • Clinical notes (including clinician notes)
  • New patient demographics data -- address, email, phone number
  • Provenance -- author, time stamp, author organization
  • Pediatric vital signs, as applicable

In addition to the information to be made available, the rule also prohibits the blocking of information amongst clinicians involved in patient treatment and between your EHR and any third party apps to which the patient directs information.

What if You Are Unable to Comply?

ONC has finalized 8 fairly detailed and complicated exceptions to the Information Blocking Rule requirements. The two exceptions that will most likely be used, as applicable, for small practices are the Prevention of Patient Harm Exception and the Infeasibility Exception.

If you have to claim an exception, be sure to have sufficient contemporaneous documentation of the necessity of the exception and policies and procedures in place to claim the exception. MarsdenAdvisors will explain these exceptions in more detail in our Information Blocking webinar.

What are the Penalties for Non-Compliance?

This is still up in the air. The penalties or disincentives for provider information blocking have not yet been established through regulation. The law that established the Information Blocking Rule requires the Department of Health and Human Services to establish "appropriate disincentives" for providers found to be information blocking. In addition, clinicians must attest that they do not information block under the MIPS Promoting Interoperability category.

If you're interested in assistance, we're here to help!

On April 5, we posted a webinar on the information blocking requirements. If you want hands-on, personalized assistance, contact us and we will have your back.

Jessica Peterson

Written by Jessica Peterson

Jessica Peterson, MD, MPH is the Vice President of Health Policy at the consulting firm MarsdenAdvisors.

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