Information BlockingIn the US, April marked a shift in how clients and patients will eventually access their own health records from their smartphones. The 21st Century Cures Act mandate, prohibit information blocking and put the patient in charge of their health records and how they interact with them from 5th April 2021. Congress passed the Cures Act Final Rule with the intent to unravel the opaque schemes that are so common in American health care today. The final rule encourages innovation in the health care technology industry to provide more knowledge to consumers and doctors in a more convenient manner. It also promises to promote transparency by using computers, laptops, and apps to enable the public to regain visibility in the facilities, efficiency, and healthcare costs.

If implemented effectively, it would mean patients could access their digital health records through smartphone apps and, in time, integrate various health information such as medical records, fitness trackers, and smartwatch data into one interactive portfolio. This could signify a big improvement in health outcomes, care coordination, and reduce medical care costs. The probation of information blocking brings the following benefits for the patients:

  • Ease of Access to Their Records
  • Protecting Patient Privacy and Security
  • Promoting the Ability to Shop for Care and Manage Costs

Exceptions to Information Blocking for Psychotherapy

As discussed in a previous TBHI article, some records may be excluded from the open note rule, including psychotherapy notes that aren’t classed as medical notes.

Other Effects of Cures Act Information Blocking

The Cure’s Act Final Rule doesn’t just impact patients. It also comes with changes for clinicians and providers. The changes clinicians and hospitals would experience due to information blocking probation includes:

  • Making Patient Data Requests Easy and Inexpensive
  • Allowing Choice of Apps and ensuring certified APIs are made available in a way that is safe, secure, and affordable
  • Flexibility in implementation of the Cures Act
  • Improving Patient Safety

Cures Act Fines & Complaints about Information Blocking

Health care providers should take immediate steps to ensure compliance as congress has imposed fines on those who participate in activities that interfere with access, sharing, or use of “electronic health information” (EHI). The law excludes practices required by applicable law(s) or meets an “exception” established by the HHS Secretary. ONC will continue to release education materials and communicate with stakeholders about the information blocking regulations. Meanwhile, Information blocking complaints can be submitted through ONC’s online Health IT Feedback Form.