HHS adds info blocking penalties for hospitals

HHS finalized its final rule outlining disincentives for hospitals, health systems and clinicians blocking patient information exchange on June 24.

Providers knowingly interfering or preventing patients from accessing medical information, EHR use and information exchange will face penalties going forward. Those penalties include:

1. Hospitals, physician groups and clinicians being stripped of meaningful use status for the calendar year of the EHR reporting period when the Office of Inspector General refers its determination to CMS. If one clinician within a group is blocking information, but not the whole group, the penalty will only apply to the offender.

2. Critical access hospitals risk seeing payment reduced to 100% of reasonable costs.

3. Clinicians in ACOs may be ineligible to participate in the ACO for at least one year, and they may not be able to receive revenue earned through the Shared Savings Program.

HHS reserved the right to create additional disincentives in the future. The new rules add to existing penalties for IT companies and developers, which face a fine of up to $1 million for information blocking.

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