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ONC Data Blocking Rule Pushed Back until September

May 10, 2018
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Originally expected to drop in April, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has delayed its much-anticipated information blocking rule until September.

The federal government released its unified agenda for the spring yesterday, and included was a proposed rule titled, “Health Information Technology: Certification and Interoperability Enhancements,” with a date of September 2018 for the rule’s release.

The description of the rule reads, “The rulemaking would update the ONC Health IT Certification Program (Program) by implementing certain provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act, including conditions and maintenance of certification requirements for health information technology (IT) developers, the voluntary certification of health IT for use by pediatric healthcare providers, health information network voluntary attestation to the adoption of a trusted exchange framework and common agreement in support of network-to-network exchange, and reasonable and necessary activities that do not constitute information blocking. The rulemaking would also modify the Program through other complementary means to advance health IT certification and interoperability.”

Indeed, the 21st Century Cures Act included various core health IT components, as read in the “Title IV—Delivery” section of the law, include encouraging interoperability of electronic health records (EHRs) and patient access to health data, discouraging information blocking, reducing physician documentation burden, as well as creating a reporting system on EHR usability.

The information blocking aspect of the rule doesn’t come without consequence or penalty, either: developers, exchanges, and networks found to have engaged in data blocking and who have submitted a false attestation would be subject to civil monetary penalties not to exceed $1 million per violation, per the Cures Act legislation.

A Twitter thread from The Pew Charitable Trust’s manager of health IT, Ben Moscovitch, dives a little bit deeper into some of the rule’s components. What’s more, Pew has proposed two steps ONC should take as they develop this rule:

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