Health IT Groups Anxiously Await Information-Blocking Regulations

One of the key hurdles to interoperability is information blocking—both defining it on a federal level and proposing solutions so the private sector can do its own part in addressing technology through innovation. Now, the private sector has grown frustrated by government delays in meeting the goals of the 21st Century Cures Act’s deadlines.

“It is stunning that, more than two years after 21st Century Cures became law, we are still waiting on regulators to actually do what the law says,” Health IT Now (HITN) Executive Director Joel White said in a statement, according to Healthcare Informatics. “Patients and providers have looked on with disappointment as the administration blows through one missed deadline after another for publicly releasing a proposed information blocking rule. It is time to say ‘enough.’ By continuing to slow walk these regulations, the administration is adding to uncertainty in the marketplace and is quickly reaching a point whereby it will be in obvious defiance of the spirit of the Cures law.”

The Cures act contains many provisions that apply to HIM professionals, and AHIMA has played a role in submitting comments this fall to Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC). It defines what information blocking is, sets penalties for engaging in the practice, and calls on the Office of Inspector General (OIG) to investigate complaints of the practice. The law is written in a way that it won’t excuse ignorance of any information-blocking practices—meaning organizations can be fined even if they aren’t intending to engage in activity that meets the definition of information blocking.

HITN has been vocal in urging the government to issue the rules. It has worked with the American Academy of Family Physicians, McKesson, the National MS Society, Oracle, and others in an effort to expedite the rule-making process.

“Every day that the administration delays implementation of these critical provisions places patients at risk of harm,” the group wrote in a letter to the OIG and ONC head Donald Rucker, MD. “Information blocking impedes provider access to the most current, accurate, or complete information on their patients. As the administration proposes and implements new rules related to open APIs and interoperability in Medicare’s payment rules for hospitals and doctors, the lack of clear rules of the road needlessly creates uncertainty for vendors and providers alike.”

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