HHS extends compliance deadlines for information blocking and HIT certification

Oct. 30, 2020

Responding to public health threats posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) issued an interim final rule that extends compliance dates and timeframes to meet requirements related to information blocking and HIT certification, according to a press release from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The new deadlines are April 5, 2021, for the information blocking provisions and December 31, 2022, for the 2015 Edition health IT certification criteria updates and adoption of a new standardized application program interface (API) functionality.

The interim final rule also adopts updated standards and makes technical corrections and clarifications to the ONC Cures Act Final Rule.

Released to the public on March 9, 2020, ONC’s Cures Act Final Rule established exceptions to the 21st Century Cures Act’s information blocking provision and adopted new health information technology (health IT) certification requirements to enhance patients’ smartphone access to their health information at no cost through the use of application programming interfaces (APIs).

“We are hearing that while there is strong support for advancing patient access and clinician coordination through the provisions in the final rule, stakeholders also must manage the needs being experienced during the current pandemic,” said Don Rucker, MD, National Coordinator for Health IT. “To be clear, ONC is not removing the requirements advancing patient access to their health information that are outlined in the Cures Act Final Rule. Rather, we are providing additional time to allow everyone in the health care ecosystem to focus on COVID-19 response.”

In the Cures Act Final Rule, ONC set compliance dates and timeframes to meet certain requirements related to the information blocking and Conditions and Maintenance of Certification (CoC/MoC) requirements. In April 2020, ONC first responded to health IT stakeholders’ concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic by exercising its enforcement discretion and providing three months after each initial date or timeline for all new requirements under the ONC Health IT Certification Program (Program).

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