ASCs engaging in "information blocking" practices could be subject to penalties under a new rule from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, according to the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association.
Six things to know:
1. The 21st Century Cures Act signed into law in 2016 defined information blocking as practices "likely to interfere with, prevent, or materially discourage access, exchange, or use of electronic health information," and it directed HHS to identify exceptions that would guarantee protection from penalties.
2. Published May 1, the ONC's final rule outlines eight exceptions to information blocking: preventing harm, privacy, security, infeasibility, health IT performance, content and manner, fees, and licensing.
3. The privacy exception could guarantee protection to ASCs that — at the explicit request of an individual — do not fulfill a request to share EHI. The content and manner exception could apply to ASCs unable to provide EHI in the requested manner, such as a certified EHR module.
4. ASCs that do not qualify for one of the eight exceptions will be evaluated individually to determine whether penalties are appropriate.
5. The penalties for ASCs and other providers have yet to be established. While the HHS Office of Inspector General will determine whether a provider engaged in information blocking, it doesn't have the authority to impose penalties. Cases will be referred to an agency that HHS was directed to select in a future rule.
6. Compliance with information blocking rules will be required from Nov. 2, to May 1, 2022.