Why the definition of 'electronic health information' is a barrier to compliance with HHS' interoperability rules

The definition of "electronic health information" will need to be standardized to ensure compliance with HHS' Cures Act Final Rule, according to a recent report by The American Health Information Management Association, the American Medical Informatics Association and the Electronic Health Record Association.

Five things to know:

  1. The rule is the first phase of policies aimed at advancing interoperability and patients' access to their health information. The rule is designed to break down barriers that prevent patients from getting electronic access to their health information and taking a step toward interoperability and patient data exchange.

  2. Starting Oct. 6, 2022, hospitals will be expected to adhere to the full scope of electronic health information for purposes of information blocking compliance, according to a Sept. 20 news release on the study. Certification to the electronic health information export criterion is expected by Dec. 31, 2023.

  3. Under HIPAA, designated record sets are defined as medical records and billing records about individuals maintained by or for a covered healthcare provider; enrollment, payment, claims adjudication, and case or medical management record systems maintained by or for a health plan; or a group of records that are used, by or for the covered entity to make decisions about individuals. 

  4. The term "record" means any item or grouping of items of information that includes protected health information and is maintained, collected, used, or disseminated by or for a covered entity.

  5. The definition creates challenges because hospitals interpret the meaning for themselves. The confusion has caused inconsistencies and confusion for how to comply with federal and state regulations, according to the report.

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