21st Century Cures Act “Information Blocking” Compliance
Physicians now have until April 5, 2021 – the previous deadline was Nov. 2, 2020 – to comply with federal rules aimed at improving data-sharing. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) delayed enforcement of the provisions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The “information blocking” rules are meant to enable widespread access and sharing of electronic health information among physicians and their patients, for example, through smartphones or other devices.
The rules implement certain interoperability provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act that Congress passed in 2015. They are first in a series of regulations from the Office of the National Coordinator set to take effect on a rolling timeline.
Physicians, hospitals, electronic health record vendors, health information exchanges, and health information networks must comply with the regulations. Physician penalties for noncompliance will be established in future HHS rulemaking.
The information-blocking provisions require that patients and their physicians be given immediate electronic access to significant portions of the patient’s electronic health information upon request. This includes eight types of clinical notes: discharge summaries, history and physicals, progress notes, consult notes, imaging reports, laboratory reports, pathology reports, and procedure notes.
ONC does not specifically state that “open notes” are required (“open notes” refers to the automatic release of all clinical notes). But TMA experts say the agency continues to move toward increased transparency of EHI, and physicians should prepare for “open notes” if they are not already releasing them.
Additional details and fact sheets are located on the ONC’s website: https://www.healthit.gov/curesrule/resources/fact-sheets