Robert Kneschke -

ONC: Most Information Blocking Claims Have Come from Patients

Patients have submitted more than half of all the potential information blocking claims since the ONC interoperability rule went into effect.

Patients have submitted the vast majority of information blocking claims since the ONC interoperability rule went into effect in April 2021, according to ONC data.

The 21st Century Cures Act prompted ONC to create a standardized process for the public to report claims of possible information blocking. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigates any claim of information blocking.

ONC has received 299 submissions through its “Report Information Blocking Portal” since April 2021. Of these submissions, 274 present possible claims of information blocking. The remaining 25 claims do not appear to present possible instances of information blocking.

For ONC to consider submissions as possible instances of information blocking, the claim must be about individuals who could potentially be information blocking actors.

“Only healthcare providers, health IT developers of certified health information technology, and health information networks/exchanges are subject to the information blocking regulations,” ONC officials Rachel Nelson and Cassie Weaver wrote in a HealthITBuzz blog post.

Additionally, they noted that ONC only considers submissions for information blocking claims if they are about electronic health information (EHI) represented in USCDI v1.

Of the 274 claims of possible information blocking ONC has received so far, 176 appear to come from patients or their attorneys, 32 appear to come on behalf of patients by third parties, 32 appear to come from healthcare providers, and 20 appear to come from developers of health IT.

“Because we don’t ask people to self-identify their role in the circumstances giving rise to their claim, in some cases we are unable to identify the perspective from which the claimant is reporting a particular claim of possible information blocking—that is the case in 16 of the 274 claims,” Nelson and Weaver wrote.

“The claims suggest we have had some success in fostering awareness of the Report Information Blocking Portal beyond the health IT community, because the claims are coming not only from health IT developers but from a variety of people—including patients and their representatives, and healthcare providers,” they added.

The officials said that it is likely that 211 claims are against healthcare providers and two are against health information networks (HINs) or health information exchanges (HIEs).

Of 46 claims that seem likely to allege information blocking by a health IT developer, 42 are against those who participate in the ONC Health IT Certification Program.

“Due to the ONC Health IT Certification Program’s requirement that participants refrain from information blocking, we can also review those claims within ONC, in addition to sharing the claim with OIG,” Nelson and Weaver explained.

“ONC acknowledges each portal submission we receive and informs the claimant when we’ve shared their claim with OIG,” Nelson and Weaver explained. “We also provide feedback, where applicable, to let people know if the information in their claim, on its face and as presented, appears to have no potential to involve conduct implicating the regulatory definition of information blocking.”

The officials noted that going forward, ONC generally plans to update data on information blocking claims monthly.

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