ONC Regulations on Access, Exchange, and Use of Patients’ Electronic Health Information
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has released regulations implementing provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures) requiring physicians to comply with new regulations on the access, exchange, and use of patients’ electronic health information (EHI).
Information blocking is a large focus of the new regulations and is defined as practices that prevent or materially discourage the access, exchange, or use of EHI. Physicians, hospitals, electronic health record (EHR) vendors, and health information exchanges (HIE) and health information networks (HIN) are all subject to ONC’s rule and are collectively referred to as “Actors.”
Actors whose actions are likely to interfere with the access, exchange, or use of EHI could be considered information blockers and subject to penalties or disincentives. Although the specific penalties have yet to be determined by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), physicians participating in the Promoting Interoperability (PI) Program could see an impact to their Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) incentives if they are found to be information blockers.
With the publication of an Interim Final Rule, HHS extended the compliance deadline to April 5, 2021 after the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) took into account the difficulties providers are currently facing due to the coronavirus pandemic.