Published: 11/2/2020 –
By Shreya Patel
Chief Policy and Privacy Officer
In the 21st Century Cures Act, Congress emphasized the electronic exchange of healthcare information and identified information blocking as one of its key barriers. This article as well as a presentation in the November episode of The Download webinar will provide an update on information blocking policy, its import, how The MiHIN Group is responding, and how these plans affect stakeholders.
In 2020, healthcare organizations have rightfully prioritized COVID-19 efforts; however, a continuing dialogue around information blocking has continued at the forefront of most interoperability conversations among policymakers, payers and providers. This is an acknowledgment of the critical imperative that seamless data access and unfettered information sharing represent, particularly during a pandemic like the one we are facing today.
This year, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) enforced this language by including an information blocking provision in its Final Interoperability Rule. The language in the Rule states that HINs/HIEs, healthcare providers, and ONC Health IT certified cannot withhold healthcare information they have access to and are legally and technically capable of sharing.
The MiHIN Group has taken this directive as an opportunity to reexamine its internal policies around information sharing. In doing so, a multidisciplinary task force was formed with a few key objectives:
- Create a Data Management Policy – Critically examine internal practices to determine when we had access to information, when we chose to share information, and if we chose not to share, that a clearly defined exception existed.
- Provide Clarity on Consumer Facing Information – Determine under what authority the organization is able to share information and confirm a clear definition and explanation of how consumers may opt-out of sharing their data, and more.
This information will be uploaded to www.mihin.org to provide clarity to both our stakeholders and Michigan residents. This work is imperative to ensure MiHIN remains at the forefront of interoperability, leads by example, and constantly reassesses our practices to promote greater care coordination.
Post Script: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced it is extending compliance deadlines for the information blocking and health IT certification requirements in the 21st Century Cures Act, to allow healthcare organizations flexibility in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The compliance date is now April 5, 2021.