Information Blocking

In a 2015 report to Congress, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) provided a definition of information blocking, an analysis of the extent to which the practice exists in the industry, and recommendations to address the issue.

What is Information Blocking?

Information blocking occurs when a person or entity – typically a health care provider, IT developer, or EHR vendor – knowingly and unreasonably interferes with the exchange and use of electronic health information, which is a right protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996.

There are three criteria that define information blocking:

  1. There is an act or a course of conduct that interferes with the ability to exchange or use electronic health information where permitted/authorized.
  2. The actor knows or should know that the actions are likely to cause interference.
  3. Under the circumstances, there is no reasonable justification for engaging in the act or course of conduct.

Examples of information blocking:

  • Fees that make data exchange cost prohibitive.
  • Organizational policies or contract terms that prevent sharing information with patients or health care providers.
  • Technology is designed or implemented in non-standard ways that inhibit the exchange of information.
  • Patients or health care providers become “locked in” to a specific technology or health care network because data is not portable.

Some actions that impede the exchange of electronic health information do not constitute information blocking. For example, when an act or course of action is necessary to protect patient safety, privacy, or other compelling interests.

Notice

Depending on the nature of your complaint, we may contact you for additional information and, in some instances, we may share the information you provide with other appropriate federal and state government agencies, officials, and authorities.

Please understand that, while we will endeavor to keep the information you share with us confidential, federal or state laws may require us to disclose certain information in some circumstances.

While legal and administrative constraints prevent us from responding to every complaint, we carefully review and share all information with appropriate officials. We appreciate your feedback, as it helps us to improve our awareness and ability to address health IT-related issues and challenges.

Content last reviewed on September 24, 2017
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