ONC Temporarily Relaxes Compliance Deadlines Related to the Cures Act

Considering the nation’s focus on the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (“ONC”) has issued enforcement discretion dates and timeframes related to certain requirements of the 21st Century Cures Act.The Cures Act seeks to advance patient access to health information, reduce cost, and improve quality of care by setting standards and requirements related to the practice of information blocking. Information blocking generally relates to the practice of interfering with the access, exchange, or use of electronic health information (“EHI”) by a health care provider, health IT developer of certified IT, a health information exchange, or health information network.Section 4004 of the Cures Act provides various examples of the types of activities that may constitute information blocking, including, but not limited to:

  • Activity that substantially increases the burden or difficulty in the use, exchange or access of EHI.
  • Activity that restricts the export of complete EHI when migrating or transitioning between health IT systems.
  • Activity that restricts EHI for treatment purposes (that is not otherwise required by law)

Access a complete list of information blocking examples through the Federal Register.The Cures Act also sets out certain activities the ONC deems reasonable and necessary and are therefore not information blocking if certain conditions are met (i.e., exceptions).

The exceptions fall into the following two categories:

Category: 1

  • Exceptions involving the failure to fulfill requests for use, exchange or access to EHI.
  • Prevent Harm Exception
  • Privacy Exception
  • Security Exception
  • Infeasibility Exception
  • Health IT Information Exception

Category: 2

  • Exceptions involving procedures for granting access required for the use, exchange or access to EHI.
  • License Exception
  • Cost Exception
  • Content and Manner Exception

The ONC lists additional details about information blocking exceptions on their website.The 3-month temporary enforcement relaxation of certain requirements of the Cures Act is a welcome decision by the ONC in light of today’s COVID-19 focus. However, one should take care to continue toward process improvement and work toward meeting the Cures Act requirements by the new enforcement dates and timeframes.

Contact us today to speak directly with Roz Cordini, JD, MSN, RN, CHC, CHPC, Senior Vice President and Director of Coding and Compliance Services.

Related Insights