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Will Your EHR Comply with the New Information Blocking Regulations?

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Ryan Carlson
February 16, 2021

As a healthcare provider, the Cures Act may affect how you implement your Electronic Health Record platform. It is important to understand how your EHR provider will adapt and comply with new information blocking regulations. 

Many physicians have difficulty accessing protected health information (PHI) with their current EHR platform. Once the Cures Act is fully in effect, it will be easier for providers and  patients to access and transfer vital medical information.

Continue reading for more information on EHRs, the Cures Act and information blocking. 

Cures Act and Information Blocking

The Cures Act was drafted by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology (HIT). Known as the Cures Act Final Rule, this law will ensure that patients and physicians have reasonable power over electronic health information. These powers include access, transfer, collection and more. The Cures Act Final Rule will take effect on November 2nd, 2021. 

The term ‘information blocking’ pertains to unfair limitations on how a physician or patient can use electronic health information. Things such as excessive access fees or complicated interfaces are considered information blocking. 

You may want to get in contact with a representative from the EHR platform you use to find out how they will adapt to these new regulations. This will help you determine whether or not you need to transfer to a new electronic health records system.

Information Blocking Examples

There are many ways in which information blocking can happen. Your EHR may be guilty of  information blocking if one of the following is true:

  • Patients are required to pay a fee to access the EHR platform
  • Physicians are limited by excessive contractual fees and restrictions
  • Physicians cannot, or find it difficult to, transfer electronic health information to other providers
  • The interface is unreasonably complex, technical or non-standardized 
  • Physicians and patients cannot access records during data export or transition periods 

These are not the only ways an EHR may be practicing information blocking. If you feel that there are instances in which it is unacceptably difficult to access, receive or exchange medical information then you may be experiencing information blocking. 

Exceptions to Information Blocking Rules

While there are cases in which information blocking is unacceptable, there are a few exceptions outlined in the Cures Act. Access to electronic health information may be blocked to:

  • Prevent harm to patients
  • Protect patient privacy
  • Protect electronic health information security
  • Improve health IT performance 

It may also be considered infeasible to provide requested access.

EHRs must meet specific criteria in order to meet an information blocking exception. Information blocking may be allowed for the following procedural reasons:

  • Improper licensing
  • Unpaid, reasonable fees
  • Content limitation

Be sure to find out whether or not your EHR system has plans set in place to manage these exceptions. This will help you discern how well your EHR is ready to comply with the new regulations. 

Cures Act Information Blocking Penalties

EHRs should have a plan in place to comply with Cures Act regulations. If they do not, they may face severe penalties. It is in your healthcare IT provider’s best interest to comply with new regulations. 

Healthcare IT developers may face a civil monetary penalty if caught information blocking. The penalty fee is $1 million per violation as outlined in the Cares Act. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Sciences, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) will determine what constitutes one violation. 

The actions of EHRs will be heavily monitored and regulations will be enforced. Your EHR management company should understand these implications of information blocking and plan to comply.

Does Your EHR Comply with the Cures Act Regulations?

To find out if your EHR company has standards that comply with the Cures Act regulations, you can head to their website or check your email inbox to see if they have already addressed the issue. They may have explicitly stated how they intend to adapt. If you cannot find information on this, contact a representative. Here are a few questions to ask:

  • Is the company aware of the Cures Act Final Rule on information blocking?
  • How does the company currently fit within these regulations?
  • How does the company plan to adapt to and comply with these regulations?
  • Where can I find a detailed report and analysis on current and future operations regarding information and blocking?

As a healthcare provider, it is important to hold your EHR provider accountable. Consider transitioning to a new healthcare IT provider if you feel that your current one is not competent enough. There are many EHR providers who have been working tirelessly to adapt to these new regulations. 

Managing Your EHR Data

When consolidating data or transitioning between EHRs, data often gets lost or is not effectively moved. Healthcare providers trust Healthjump to safely and effectively move their electronic health information. Healthjump allows clients to easily link to EHRs and clinical systems, translate data to common language and move data to an API interface, Webhooks, and more.

Healthjump is the top choice for many healthcare providers who want to seamlessly move their data from one location to the next. Learn more about how Healthjump can provide solutions for your needs.

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