The Information Blocking Rule

August 31, 2023 | Health System Risk Management


​​​The information blocking provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act were enacted in response to concerns that some entities were engaging in practices that unreasonably limited the availability and use of electronic health information (EHI) for permitted purposes. In May 2020, the US Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) issued the final rule containing the information blocking regulations (45 CFR Part 171). (1) This article summarizes the primary requirements of the Information Blocking Rule.

The Information Blocking Rule applies to "actors," which the rule defines as encompassing healthcare providers, health information technology (IT) developers (of certified health IT), health information exchanges, and health information networks. (2)

The rule's definition of healthcare providers is broad. It includes, but is not limited to, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, nursing facilities, home health entities, other long-term care facilities, healthcare clinics, group practices, ambulatory surgical centers, pharmacies, laboratories, community mental health centers, renal dialysis facilities, federally qualified health centers, emergency medical services, physicians, certain practitioners, therapists, and pharmacists. (3,4)

Information blocking refers to practices that are "likely to interfere with access, exchange, or use" of EHI. Practices that are required by law or that fall under an exception listed in the Information Blocking Rule are not considered information blocking. (2) To interfere with EHI access, exchange, or use means to prevent, materially discourage, or otherwise inhibit it. ...

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