EHR vendors fire back on information blocking

15 Oct 2015 3:32 PM | Denny Brennan (Administrator)

Clinical Innovation and Technology | Beth Walsh | Oct 15, 2015

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has focused in on the problem of health IT interoperability this year, sending a report to Congress in April about vendors who engage in information blocking.
The HIMSS Electronic Health Record Association (EHRA) now seeks clarity for ONC's definition of information blocking and says there is a risk of overreaction.

“We believe that information blocking definitely needs to be addressed where it occurs if it’s intentional and unreasonable, based on the current ONC definition,” said Sarah Corley, MD, EHRA vice chair and chief medical officer for NextGen Healthcare. “Where we need clarity is more examples of what is information blocking, because the devil is in the details.”
“Given the recent focus on information blocking and the fact that providers are actively implementing policies to avoid actions that could be construed as data blocking, EHR developers and their clients are anxious to receive guidance on this issue,” said Leigh Burchell, EHRA chair and vice president of government affairs at Allscripts.

In a letter to National HIT Coordinator Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc, the trade association said “there are a limited number of anecdotes of information blocking, but determining which are truly information blocking per the definition is not easy. A ny assessment of potential information blocking must be fact-based, given a specific situation, and include the perspectives of all stakeholders before declaring that information blocking has, in fact, occurred.”

EHRA also said there is a perception that information blocking exists but “in many cases, there is no intent to interfere, but rather a series of events that result in less data exchange than desired by some parties. We run the risk of overreaction to what appear to be isolated incidents.

ONC’s report to Congress concluded that some providers and vendors have created technical, legal and business barriers between their EHR systems and other systems to interfere with access to information but Corley called for better data on " exactly on much deliberate, intentional and unreasonable information blocking is going on right now."

EHRA “definitely believes that if people are unreasonably and deliberately blocking information, then there needs to be penalties assessed” but that requires better definitions from ONC. “If they’re going to start enforcing it, you want to make sure that they’re adhering to some well-defined definitions of what it is exactly.

Read the complete letter.

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