HHS' Delay of Information Blocking Rule Removes Burdens, But Creates More Challenge

October 8, 2020

David Lareau, CEO of Medicomp Systems, says this delay will mean ongoing challenges in access to accurate, complete data—which is more important now than ever before.

Due to the stress the pandemic has placed on health systems and hospitals, the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) recently recommended delaying the implemented timelines for its long-awaited information blocking rule issued earlier this year in March.

This is the second time the Trump Administration has planned to delay the compliance deadlines for healthcare information blocking and interoperability regulations due to COVID-19.

The HHS sent the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) an interim final rule September 17 that revises the timelines.

HHS' information blocking rule requires that electronic health data be made available to patients at no cost and defines exceptions to data blocking. It was issued by both the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

The interim final rule implies the agency will extend dates identified in the information blocking provisions, including the November compliance deadline for providers as well as dates for the Conditions and Maintenance of Certification provisions requiring electronic health record (EHR) platforms to be interoperable.

The information blocking requirements were set to take effect November 2.

Although the delays make sense for those who are burdened, David Lareau, CEO of Medicomp Systems, says this delay will mean ongoing challenges in access to accurate, complete data—which is more important now than ever before.

Lareau says the impact of the delays will include:

  • Flaws in clinical decision-making: Quality care could be jeopardized by incomplete, inaccurate data—which could result in unintended outcomes.
  • Delays in appropriate care: Providers need access to clinical information from all data sources across the continuum of care to formulate effective treatment plans at the point of care.
  • Misinformed healthcare policies: If providers, policymakers, HIEs and even patients do not have complete, structured data, it may result in incorrect assumptions and outcomes.