Study: EHR vendors, health systems engage in information blocking

A study in The Milbank Quarterly investigated the extent to which EHR vendors and health systems interfere with the electronic exchange of patient health information.

The researchers — led by Julia Adler-Milstein, PhD, of the University of Michigan School of Information and School of Public Health in Ann Arbor — conducted a national survey about information blocking. They asked leaders of health information exchange efforts whether they have witnessed information blocking and, if so, what forms it took.

Half of HIE leaders reported that EHR vendors regularly engage in information blocking, while one quarter of respondents reported that health systems regularly engage in the practice. EHR vendors tend to deploy products with limited interoperability and health systems tend to make providers adopt specific EHR technology, according to the respondents.

The researchers asserted that information blocking is motivated by revenue opportunities.

"Information blocking appears to be real and fairly widespread," the researchers concluded. "However, because information blocking is largely legal today, a strong response will involve new legislation and associated enforcement actions."

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