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Public Health Reports: Health Information Blocking: Responses Under the 21st Century Cures Act

In a recent article in Public Health Reports, Drs. Jennifer R. Black, Rachel L. Hulkower, and Tara Ramanathan of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discussed the issues surrounding information blocking, or activities that inhibit collecting, using, and exchanging electronic health information (EHI), as well as the implications of such blocking for interoperability, or the easy, secure exchange of EHI. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, seeks to facilitate the rapid adoption of interoperable technologies and services to support the exchange of EHI and improve care and efficiency in the U.S. healthcare system. While implied in the HITECH Act, both interoperability and information blocking were not expressly defined in it, making them difficult to regulate. In 2015, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) aimed to provide a uniform definition of intentional information blocking in a report of their own. The report also proposed an approach to stop information blocking. Finally, the 21st Century Cures Act, signed into law on December 2016, has incorporated the definitions of both interoperability and information blocking into existing provisions in the Public Health Service Act that regulate the use of health information technology in health care practice and public health. Under this Act, the ONC is expected to issue a proposed rule on information blocking in 2018. The authors concluded that the Act’s inclusion of information blocking was an important step in improving health care quality and efficiency through the effective exchange of EHI.

Read the full article here.

Public Health Reports (PHR) is the official journal of the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General and the U.S. Public Health Service and has been published since 1878. It is published bimonthly, plus supplement issues, through an official agreement with the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health. PHR’s mission is to facilitate the movement of science into public health practice and policy to positively affect the health and wellness of the American public.

Visit Public Health Reports for more information about the journal.