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An introduction to information blocking

Joshua D. Mast (josh.mast@cerner.com) is Senior Regulatory Strategist at Cerner Corporation in Shawnee, KS.

Healthcare doesn’t take place in one location. Health information takes many forms and receives contributions from several sources and actors. In today’s healthcare industry, the patient and their electronic medical record is a major connecting point and that connection is largely enabled using Health Information Technology (HIT). If the HIT is not designed, implemented, or used to allow the flow of electronic health information or if barriers to exchange of that information are present, it may hinder information flow, which may implicate a case of information blocking. The topic of information blocking is evolving, but at its heart is the idea that electronic healthcare information should be allowed to flow from provider to provider, provider to payer, from provider to patient, and so on to all those authorized to be able to access, exchange, or use the information. This article will provide an introduction to the topic of information blocking as a key compliance focus.

Over the past few years, the topic of information blocking has been a focus in two areas of rulemaking. First, the Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services (CMS) issued rulemaking under authority of the Medicare and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), creating mandatory attestation statements tied to the implementation and use of Certified Electronic Health Record Technology (CEHRT) for participation in the Promoting Interoperability (PI) programs.[1] Second, the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) has taken the framework of information blocking outlined in the 21st Century Cures Act and carries it forward with definitions and exceptions in its 21st Century Cures Act: Interoperability, Information Blocking, and the ONC Health IT Certification Program proposed rule (Cures Act Proposed Rulemaking).[2]

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