77% Information Blocking Complaints Filed Against the Provider Organizations

77% Information Blocking Complaints Filed Against the Provider Organizations

26 May, 2022 | 4 Min Read|by Gaurav Mundra
  • Category: Interoperability
  • Information blocking was brought into action to ensure the patient’s right to access their health data was valued and upheld; however, things haven’t been going as expected. There has been high dissatisfaction from the patient end with how providers have been handling the EHI access requests.

    The Severity of Information Blocking Complaints

    Several instances have caused the need to file complaints against information blocking.

    As per data published by the ONC at the end of April 2022, 393 information blocking portal submissions were received, out of which 29 did not appear to be claims of potential information blocking. Patients or their representatives filed as much as 66.3% of the complaints.

    Claim Counts by Types of Claimant

    Source: ONC

    Claim Counts by Potential Actors

    Source: ONC

    “Something that requires attention is that 76.8% (more than three-fourths) of all information blocking complaints were filed against provider organizations."
    CHPL-listed Health IT Vendors (13.7%) and Non-Actors (4.2%) were a distant second and third in the list of potential actors against whom the complaints were filed.

    Claimants from the patient end have raised concerns about being charged excessive fees to access the electronically held health data.

    Action Against the Complaints

    Has action been taken to address the complaints against the potential actors?

    The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) is not yet ready to impose any action against the potential actors as it has not finalized the rules that would allow it to do so. Although the proposed rule was published in April 2020, the final rule is yet to see the light of the day. The final rule is expected to define the nature and quantum of penalties that could be imposed on the potential actors.

    Something that isn’t entirely clear is if the final rules would apply to the information blocking incidents that occurred before publishing the final rules. However, this clearly is a wake-up call for provider organizations.

    What Must the Provider Organizations Do?

    To better comply with the information blocking rule and to aid the response to requests of access, use, and exchange of EHI, the provider organization must ensure the following:

    Routine actions to be taken:

    • The provider organization can begin by looking at the organizational structure and include the following subject matter experts:
      • a legal board that possesses expert knowledge and understanding of the information blocking law;
      • skilled IT team that is completely informed of the organization's procedure for EHI access, use, and exchange;
      • information privacy specialists who apprehend the privacy protection policy for EHI;
    • The provider organization must ensure that the appropriate staff is trained to respond to these requests.
    • Assess your readiness to service any Release of Information (RoI) requests that come your way on time. Responding to such requests may include extracting data from your archival software in addition to the data stored in your primary EHR. Ensure to talk to your EHR and archive vendors and get the data extraction process tested.
    • Check with your EHR vendor about their compliance with the Information Blocking Rule.
    • Document the reasonableness standard of your organization; every situation in which reasonable action could not be taken must be documented to be used when required.

    Request-specific actions to be taken:

    • Maintain a complete paper trail of all requests received and actions taken. Even if you have reasons to believe that the situation qualifies under information blocking exceptions and you do not need to release the information, respond in writing to the requester citing your reasons not to disclose the information.
    • Promptly account for the fees received to provide such release of information using appropriate revenue codes so that your books of accounts stay clean.

    One action that keeps the provider organization prepared for the future is to watch out for the newer amendments made to the Act. This helps the organization monitor its progress and meet the set standards.

    When dealing with information blocking, it is good to remember that more documentation is better than less documentation!

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