January 2018
Health Care Industry Must be Mindful of ‘Information Blocking’ 

Under the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act), the Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary is mandated to have promulgated regulations by Dec. 13, 2017 that, among other requirements, prohibit “information blocking” as a condition to Electronic Health Record (EHR) certification, which is a requirement that EHRs must meet to qualify for use in Medicare/Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. Although the HHS Secretary has yet to do so, and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) continues to work on defining the Cures Act broad definition of information blocking through exemptions, the prohibition is already supported by the 2015 Edition Health IT Certification Criteria, as well as other federal regulations and programs, such as HIPAA and MACRA.  

Accordingly, vendors and providers should avoid practices that may be considered “information blocking” when negotiating their contracts for services, including technical limitations that make authorized access to the electronic health information difficult, burdensome or expensive for health care providers or patients. Such restrictions on health IT (HIT)’s certified technical capabilities may result in risk to the technology’s EHR Certification and/or result in civil penalties. 

View the full alert here.