March 31, 2022

ACR Updates Information Blocking FAQ With Key Clarifications

The American College of Radiology® (ACR®) published updates to its frequently asked question (FAQ) document related to information blocking. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is responsible for implementing the information blocking provision contained in the 21st Century Cures Act of 2016, which generally prohibits impediments to legally permissible access, exchange or use of electronic health information (EHI), including imaging data. ACR updates are intended to educate members about the provision, including the latest clarifications.

The ACR’s revised FAQ incorporates key HHS clarifications to the information blocking provision, including two new items the College advocated for that could help address potential ethical concerns regarding surprising patients with unrequested clinical data before review by referring physicians. In its clarifications, HHS:

  • Indicated that, in most circumstances, stopping notifications to make patients aware of newly available EHI would likely not be considered information blocking
  • Clarified providers could delay EHI access when following the patient’s, or patient’s representative’s, request. This would appear to necessitate documentation of the agreed timeframe or conditions for delayed EHI access.

Radiology providers and compliance teams should carefully review the details of HHS’ clarifications. For more details and links about information sharing regulations, see the ACR information blocking resource page or contact Michael Peters, ACR Government Affairs Director.

Note: The ACR provides the above only as general information. Readers should not construe this article to provide specific legal advice on their individual practice matters. This information is subject to change depending on future HHS rules and/or clarifications.