The Information Blocking provision (21st Century Cures Act of 2016, Section 4004) has been in effect since April 2021, to discourage interference by relevant providers, developers and networks of legally permissible access, exchange and use of electronic health information (EHI). As a key deadline for the provision approaches, the American College of Radiology® (ACR®) has updated its online educational information for radiologists, including new resources.
Beginning Oct. 6, the scope of the EHI definition — and, consequently, the applicability of the Information Blocking regulatory paradigm — will expand to include most electronic protected health information (ePHI) that is part of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)-designated record set, with certain limitations. Previously, relevance of the Information Blocking paradigm was limited to a smaller and more basic dataset identified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). For radiologists and other actors, this could mean non-deidentified images and other EHI not previously covered by the EHI definition are now subject to the rules. Regardless of the previously scheduled expansion of the scope of the program, HHS has yet to propose or implement provider-specific disincentives for actors found to be in violation of the rules following case-by-case investigations into intent, knowledge and circumstances.
The ACR published an online resource center on the Information Blocking provision in March 2021. ACR resources, including Frequently Asked Questions, were updated over time as HHS released new rule clarifications in response to questions from the ACR and other public stakeholders. More recently, the ACR added a freely accessible informational webinar presented by William Mehan, MD, MBA (Member, ACR Government Relations Commission-Federal Regulatory Committee), that provides a simplified overview of the Information Blocking provision requirements, its implications for radiologist actors and lessons learned during real-world implementation.