top of page
Search

Information Blocking: We Need More Accountability for Better Healthcare


By Jerrod Ullah, CEO & Founder


Introduction

In the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare, the digitization of clinical information has promised improved accessibility, efficiency, and patient care. However, with great technological advancements come great responsibilities. The 21st Century Cures Act, enacted in 2016, was designed, in part, to safeguard the potential advantages of electronic health record (EHR) systems from being hindered by the practice of information blocking.


Understanding Information Blocking

Information blocking refers to the deliberate practice by certain entities, termed "actors," that hinders the access, exchange, or use of electronic health information (EHI), unless required by law or justified by specific exceptions. The Cures Act applies this law to a trio of crucial players in the healthcare ecosystem: healthcare providers, health IT developers of certified health IT, and health information exchanges (HIEs)/health information networks (HINs).


For health IT developers and HIEs/HINs, the law applies a standard of whether they know, or should know, that a practice is likely to interfere with the access, exchange, or use of EHI. Healthcare providers, on the other hand, are held to the standard of knowing that a practice is unreasonable and likely to interfere with EHI access, exchange, or use.


The Cures Act aimed to make the sharing of electronic health information the expected norm in healthcare, empowering patients and providers alike with seamless access to vital health data.


The Role of EMR Vendors

Electronic Medical Record (EMR) vendors play a pivotal role in this narrative. As key contributors to the digitization of clinical information, they are entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring the smooth flow of data between healthcare providers and systems. The law's recognition of different knowledge standards emphasizes the crucial role of these vendors in maintaining data integrity.


While the Cures Act sets the stage for information sharing, the spotlight on EMR vendors is brighter than ever. These vendors are not mere service providers; they are stewards of critical health data. Ensuring accountability in their practices is essential.


Transparency and Education

EMR vendors must prioritize transparency in their practices, ensuring that healthcare providers understand the implications of their services. Education on information blocking regulations is crucial to fostering a collaborative environment where all stakeholders work towards a common goal – improved patient outcomes.


Interoperability and Collaboration

The interoperability of EHR systems is at the heart of the Cures Act. EMR vendors should prioritize interoperability in their systems, making it easier for healthcare providers, as well as other innovative HIT solutions, to access and exchange information. The healthcare sector benefits when multiple technology companies can contribute to the development of innovative solutions. Predatory practices that suppress or sideline competitors hinder progress and limit the options available to healthcare providers, ultimately affecting patient care.


Proactive Compliance Measures

EMR vendors should implement proactive measures to ensure compliance with information blocking regulations. Regular audits and assessments of their systems can identify potential issues before they become barriers to information exchange. By staying ahead of regulatory requirements, vendors contribute to a culture of trust and collaboration.


Investment in Research and Development

The healthcare landscape is dynamic, and technology evolves rapidly. EMR vendors must invest in research and development to stay ahead of the curve. This includes incorporating innovative solutions that enhance data sharing while maintaining security and privacy standards.


Conclusion

As we champion the principles embedded in the Cures Act, it is vital to shine a light on the potential pitfalls that we as healthcare professionals must navigate. Ensuring fair competition, avoiding favoritism, embracing a patient-centric approach, and fostering transparency are crucial steps. By doing so, we can contribute to a healthcare landscape where innovation flourishes, information flows seamlessly, and, most importantly, patients receive the best possible care.

25 views0 comments
bottom of page