Health IT companies face new penalties for blocking information: 5 things to know

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Health IT companies that fail to comply with federal information-blocking prohibitions this year could be penalized as much as $1 million per violation, according to a Sept. 27 Bloomberg Law report.

The rule went into effect April 5, yet many companies have failed to comply. The federal Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT found that just 21.9 percent of health apps connected to EHRs meet the international standard for the transfer of clinical and administrative data between software apps used by healthcare providers, FedScoop reported.

Five things to know:

  1. Developers of EHRs, health information networks and health information exchanges and healthcare providers are subject to the information blocking prohibition.

  2. There are eight exceptions to the prohibition, such as blocking information to prevent harm to a patient that would arise through data-sharing.

  3. Companies that fail to comply with the rule face a civil penalty of up to $1 million for each violation. HHS is finalizing its enforcement of the rule, but it already has attributed patient harm, financial harm to healthcare programs and more to information blocking, according to the report.

  4. The disclosure of electronic health information can sometimes appear to be at odds with HIPAA privacy protections, but the information blocking rule requires companies to share information unless an exception applies, according to Bloomberg Law.

  5. Health IT companies should be aware of the exceptions to the rule and apply them consistently for patients, according to the report. Companies should also determine how interoperability regulations affect their current HIPAA policies, Bloomberg Law reported.

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