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4 Things to Know about the Information Blocking Rule

4 Things to Know about the Information Blocking Rule

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The Information Blocking Rule is part of the 21st Century Cures Act. This rule prevents health care providers and other actors from blocking or interfering with access to, exchanging, and using electronic health information. The rule will go into effect on April 5, 2021.

Here are four things you need to know about the Information Blocking Rule.

What Is Information Blocking?

Information blocking is a practice or activity that prevents or interferes with access to, exchanging, or using electronic health information. Electronic health information includes Electronic Medical Records (EMRs), Electronic Health Records (EHRs), and other data about patients and their care. 

Information blocking goes beyond policies and practices that block access to data. According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), certain changes to EHR or health IT systems may also constitute information blocking. These include:

    Information blocking hinders interoperability, or the ability to exchange information across EHR systems. It can also prevent patients from accessing their data. The Information Blocking Rule prevents health care actors from refusing access to electronic health information. It is a step forward toward data sharing practices that improve patient care.

    ONC defines a list of actors who must not engage in information blocking. These actors include health care providers, developers of certified health IT, health information networks, and health information exchanges.

    What Does the Information Blocking Rule Require?

    The Information Blocking Rule prevents certain health care actors from interfering with the access, exchange, and use of electronic health information. Under this rule, your practice must fulfill requests for electronic health information. When authorized parties request electronic health information, your practice must provide it timely. The rule prevents your practice and other actors from erecting barriers to interoperability.

    Providers, patients, and other interested parties can report violations of the Information Blocking rule to ONC. For example, these include patients or providers whose requests for access, exchange, or use of electronic health information were denied or unreasonably delayed. Health care actors who violate the Information Blocking Rule can face fines of up to $1 million.

    How Will the Information Blocking Rule Affect My Practice?

    The Information Blocking Rule is a step forward toward interoperability. You should prepare your practice and your EHR system for increased data-sharing efforts. The rule prevents you from refusing data requests from authorized parties or interfering with otherwise valid data sharing. Your practice will need to respond to valid data requests timely. You will also need to configure your EHR system to receive data from other providers and health care systems.

    You may need to update or customize your EHR system to comply with the Information Blocking Rule. When properly configured, your EHR can ease the burden of responding to data requests. It can also help you integrate data from other providers into your patients’ EMRs.

    This rule seeks to encourage interoperability and data sharing. While your practice may need to make some adjustments to comply, the rule should ultimately enhance patient care. By sharing data with your patients’ other providers, your practice will get a more complete picture of your patients’ health and health care needs. This will help you provide higher-quality and higher-value care. By also sharing data with patients, you can engage them in their care, further improving outcomes.

    Are There Exceptions to the Information Blocking Rule?

    ONC has defined eight exceptions to the information blocking rule. These exceptions give practices a safe harbor to conduct reasonable and necessary activities without violating the information blocking rule. To take advantage of these exceptions, your practice must meet certain conditions. Here are the eight exceptions:

      How TempDev Can Help

      TempDev’s consultants and developers can help you prepare your NextGen EHR and EPM for the Information Blocking Rule. The TempDev team has helped thousands of ambulatory care practices comply with interoperability, MIPS, and health IT reporting requirements.

      Call us at 888.TEMP.DEV or contact us for help complying with the Information Blocking Rule.


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