What the Elimination of Data Blockers Means for Care
From siloed electronic health records (EHRs) to organizational policies, information blocking has complicated the healthcare ecosystem, resulting in disconnected care and negative patient outcomes.
To combat this pervasive lack of transparency, the final rule, implemented under the 21st Century Cures Act, mandates that healthcare providers, health information technology (IT) developers, and health information exchanges (HIEs) meet interoperability standards or risk massive financial penalty.
While adherence with the final rule may feel daunting, the benefits of eliminating data blockers far outweigh the associated hurdles.
Below, we explore the three biggest impacts the elimination of data blockers will have on care.
Eliminate Care Gaps
It’s no secret that gaps in care can be harmful and costly, resulting in negative outcomes for both individuals and organizations.
By ending data blocking, care gaps that exist due to siloed patient information are bridged, benefiting payers, providers, and patients. Ultimately, eliminating care gaps through unified data and true interoperability results in:
- Improved patient health outcomes
- Increased quality scores
- Increased reimbursement under risk-sharing models, like Medicare
Drive Healthcare Innovation
The Information Blocking Rule demands that healthcare organizations adhere to a specific set of standards that will unify healthcare data.
This standardization of data and accessibility will greatly change the way individuals interact with their health information, as well as the way they access it.
When shifts of this magnitude occur, innovation is inevitable.
As information blocking is eliminated, we can anticipate massive innovation in the healthcare space, spanning from app development to fundamental changes in patient engagement and behavior.
A few anticipated innovation areas include:
- Development of patient portals
- Creation of new technology to drive and support engagement and access
- Evolution of individualized care practices
Realize Person-Centered Care
Person-centered care has long dominated headlines and thought leadership in the healthcare industry.
However, realizing this care model has been complicated due to the inherently siloed nature of care.
Based on the tenet that patient input, views, and engagement can eliminate the transactional nature of care, person-centered care can finally be realized by the elimination of information blockers.
By equipping patients with all of their health-adjacent information, they become active participants in their care, rather than reactive entities.
The ONC has defined a few exceptions that offer healthcare providers and health IT developers certainty that, when their practices with respect to accessing, exchanging, or using electronic health information (EHI) meet the conditions of one or more exceptions, such practices will not be considered information blocking.
- Preventing Harm: A request for data access that places a patient or other person in unreasonable risk of harm can be justified has a reason to limit or deny access.
- Security and Privacy: A request for data that violates state and federal law, or seeks to circumvent established security safeguards, are considered exceptions.
- Infeasibility: Legitimate practical challenges may limit one’s ability to comply with a request for EHI. You may not have or may not be able to obtain the legal rights, or technological capabilities to enable access.
- Health IT Performance: any request that impedes upon the performance of the broader IT resources can and should be denied.
- Content and Manner: this exception support innovation and competition by allowing us to first attempt to reach and maintain market negotiated terms for the access. Fees may be charged for the data and any resulting IP can be licensed.
While adjusting to the final rule mandates may feel challenging at the outset, by eliminating data blockers, we can redefine the future of care, casting it in a shape that benefits every patient in every setting every time.
March 29, 2022