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Fast Facts on the Cures Act and Information Blocking

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Jim Rowland
October 31, 2022

With the Cures Act Final Rule fully implemented as of October 6, 2022 it’s important that providers and healthcare IT companies understand what “information blocking” is. Healthcare IT companies should also understand how to comply with information blocking regulations to avoid monetary penalties. 

These regulations will greatly affect how electronic health records (EHRs) are used. The hope is that new standards will make it easier for healthcare providers and patients alike to utilize EHRs. Continue reading to learn more about the Cures Act and what “information blocking” really means. 

About the Cures Act

The Cures Act Final Rule is a law implemented by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology. The deadline for implementation was moved to October 6, 2022 due to the impacts of COVID-19.

The core objective of the Cures Act is to implement seamless, more efficient interoperability and give patients more control of their electronic health information (EHI). EHI should be easily exchangeable between provider and patient as well as between providers and vendors. The regulations will give patients the opportunity to easily access health records on smartphone applications and to better manage healthcare costs and outcomes. 

The Cures Act will benefit healthcare providers by making EHR access requests easy to fulfill. It will also simplify and standardize the technological interface of EHR platforms. 

Information Blocking Definition

The term “information blocking” refers to the interference of access, use or exchange of electronic health information. A health IT developer, healthcare provider, or EHI network may be held guilty of information blocking. When patients or providers cannot access important medical records, it can negatively impact patient health and the financial aspects of care. The Cures Act Final Rule enforces information blocking regulations. 



Examples of Information Blocking

There are a few ways in which a healthcare IT developer may be guilty of information blocking:

  • Charging fees for patients to access information.
  • Limiting how long a provider or patient can access information for.
  • Refusal to enable patient access to software or interfaces.
  • Restrictions on authorized access, such as healthcare specialists.
  • Restricting exchange or sharing capabilities.
  • Excessive fees to export data when switching from one EHR to another.
  • Implementing non-standardized or complex technology.
  • Writing terms and conditions or contracts that limit, discourage or restrict access.

These examples only scratch the surface of how healthcare IT developers can block information. This is why it is important for healthcare providers to monitor and record any instances in which information blocking takes place and get in line with new requirements. 

8 Exceptions to Information Blocking

The Cures Act Final Rule has listed out exceptions to information blocking. The eight total exceptions are divided into two categories. The first are exceptions in which a request to access information is not fulfilled:

  1. If the security of the EHR interface is at risk by fulfilling the request.
  2. If the privacy of the patient is at risk by fulfilling the request.
  3. If the EHR interface is not available or has low performance because it is being updated or improved. 
  4. If the patient or someone else will be put in harm's way by fulfilling the request. 
  5. If it is considered infeasible to fulfill the request. 

The second category of exceptions are those in which procedures will not allow a request to access information:

  1. If content or the manner of the information is limited by the provider.
  2. If reasonable fees are charged for healthcare provider use and exchange.
  3. If interoperability elements are licensed for use and exchange of information. 

In order for a health IT developer or healthcare provider to block information based on one of these exceptions, certain provisions must be met and adequately recorded. 

Complying with Information Blocking Regulations

Civil Monetary Penalties have not been finalized, but for Health Information Networks (HINs), Health Information Exchanges (HIEs), and Health IT Developers, penalties could be up to $1 million per violation. The penalties for Healthcare Providers are still being established. In April 2022, ONC acknowledged that closing the enforcement gap and establishing the penalties for providers was a priority. 

Here are a few things for health IT companies to do to ensure compliance:

  1. Analyze current compliance with Cures Act regulations through legal counsel. 
  2. Host training programs for employees on information blocking.
  3. Draft a compliance remediation plan.
  4. Adapt current software or develop new software and interfaces to fit within requirements. 
  5. Review all new actions with legal counsel to ensure complete compliance.

Healthcare providers, on the other hand, should be sure to call EHR vendors and ask how they are planning to comply with the regulations set by the Cures Act. 

Health Information Data Exports and Integrations

Many healthcare providers struggle with extracting their own EHR data for reporting or securely sharing practice and patient data with authorized third-parties and software applications. With Healthjump, connecting to your existing EHR and collecting data is made easy. Healthjump gives healthcare providers a variety of different capabilities such as:

  • Use EHR data across multiple vendor systems without costly integrations
  • Securely share data with third-party applications to modernize your practice
  • Automate the submission of test results and immunizations to state registries
  • Easily extract data and electronic health information for use in reporting and analytics

Contact our team of data experts to learn more about how we can help you stay in Cures Act compliance!

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