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New DHHS Rule Highlights Healthcare Providers Obligations to Allow Patients' Access to Their EHR

When it comes to patient records, most healthcare providers think immediately of their obligations to maintain the security of those records under HIPAA and other related laws.  However, allowing patients access to their records and specifically their electronic health records should also be at top of mind for healthcare providers seeking to remain compliant with their obligations under state and federal law.  A final rule announced Monday highlights that obligation as well as potential penalties for healthcare providers who fail to comply.

Health-care providers are facing penalties for blocking access to a patient’s electronic health information under a Biden administration rule announced Monday. The US Department of Health and Human Services final rule (RIN: 0955 - AA05) penalizes hospitals in the Medicare Promoting Interoperability Program that block health information sharing by stripping their meaningful electronic health record user status. “Meaningful use” carries financial incentives. Hospitals that commit “information blocking” can be prevented from earning 75% of their annual market based increase. Accountable Care Organization health providers caught blocking information may be banned from the Medicare Shared Savings Program for at least a year, cutting off a revenue stream. Penalties apply to providers that the HHS Inspector General determines have “committed information blocking,” according to the rule.