On April 10, ONC released its Report to Congress on Health Information Blocking (the “Report”). Here is a brief summary of the report, the full text of which is available here.
ONC has stated that its views health information blocking as frustrating the goals of HITECH and the Meaningful Use initiative. ONC defines information blocking as conduct which:
- Interferes with the ability of authorized persons or entities to exchange electronic health information; and
- is done knowingly with the intent to block information exchange; and
- is not justified by reasonable business, technological, or public policy reasons.
ONC recognizes that there may legitimate reasons why EHR systems are not interoperable. The Report focuses on the non-legitimate reasons, and highlights the following behavior:
- Contract terms which restrict individuals’ access to their EHR;
- Charging prices or fees for data exchange, portability, and interfaces which make exchanging EHR cost prohibitive;
- Developing health IT in “non-standard” ways which may increase the costs of sharing health information (particularly when interoperability standards have been adopted);
- Developing health IT in ways which may “lock in” users or their data, leading to fraud, waste or abuse, or otherwise impede innovation in health information exchange.
The Report is careful to explain that ONC would weigh such practices against legitimate considerations whether they are technological, regulatory, or economic in nature.