What You Need to Know: Information Blocking Provisions of 21st Century Cures Act Takes Effect

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Final rules from the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) supporting the seamless and secure access, exchange and use of electronic health information took effect April 5. Implementation of the rules, which were issued in March 2020, were delayed this past fall due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Under the final rule, the ONC continues the process of implementing requirements for health information technology (IT) developers through the agency's Health IT Certification Program to define reasonable and necessary activities that do not constitute information blocking in health IT systems and establish the voluntary certification of health IT for use by pediatric health care providers. Additionally, ONC adopted the HL7® Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources® (FHIR®) standard release 4 as a foundational standard for electronic health information exchange for certified electronic health record technology (CEHRT).

After receiving comments on the proposed rule from the ACC and other stakeholders, ONC modified the implementation timeline to allow more time for vendors, providers and other affected actors to prepare and implement the new requirements. Additionally, ONC made changes to help clarify information blocking requirements, including providing details on who would be required to share electronic health information at an individual's request and how this should be completed.

The CMS rule includes several policy changes, as part of its MyHealthEData initiative, seeking to make patient data more useful and transferable through open, secure, standardized and machine-readable formats while reducing restrictive burdens on health care providers. The rule also requires hospitals to send electronic patient event notifications of a patient's admission, discharge, and/or transfer to another health care facility or provider.

The ACC is supporting implementation awareness through the collaborative Information Blocking Resource Center. In addition, ACC members are encouraged to review additional resources and fact sheets from the American Medical Association, ONC and CMS.

Keywords: ACC Publications, Cardiology Magazine, Access to Information, Consumer Health Information, Health Information Systems, Information Services

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