On June 27, 2023, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued its Final Rule on implementing penalties for information blocking.1 Based on the Final Rule, individuals or entities will now be subject to Civil Monetary Penalties (CMPs) of up to $1 million per violation if found to have committed information blocking. Information blocking is the practice of interfering with the exchange, access, or use of electronic health information (EHI), except when required by law or as specified in an exception. The Final Rule imposed by the OIG does not establish any new information-blocking requirements but rather incorporates CMP authority and penalties for information-blocking.
Compliance experts and organizations have already been working on compliance with the information-blocking rule but were not aware of the penalties for non-compliance. Starting September 1, 2023, the OIG will prioritize complaints regarding information blocking and enforce CMPs for violations. The OIG’s approach to enforcement will focus on allegations that result in a greater risk to providers, health care programs, and patients.
Before the implementation of the Final Rule, healthcare entities should review their privacy practices to ensure compliance with information-blocking restrictions. Specifically, healthcare entities may adopt standardized application program interfaces to cater to the need for a secure and accessible EHI standard for patients at no cost. When patients can not access EHI it can negatively impact the financial aspects of care, ultimately affecting the patient's overall health.