Sequoia Project offers guidance, forms group on information blocking

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The Sequoia Project is offering guidance on information blocking in advance of expected final rules from the government on the topic.

In light of the significant impact the rules would have on the health information sharing community, Sequoia has formed the Information Blocking Workgroup, says Mariann Yeager, CEO at Sequoia.

“Working collaboratively to interpret and apply the rules will be important to fostering cooperation as the community prepares for ONC and Office of the Inspector General enforcement,” she notes. “The Information Blocking Workgroup aims to be a guide for the community. Implementation guidance is essential to reduce uncertainty and prepare for compliance.”

When implemented, the information blocking rule will significantly affect a wide variety of stakeholders. Components of an information blocking rule will include regulatory definitions, information blocking practices and compliance and implementation plans, among other factors, predicts The Sequoia Project, which operates a national health information exchange.

The rule will affect consumer organizations, government agencies, health information networks, healthcare providers, health insurers, public health organizations, health IT vendors, informatics organizations and release of information companies, among other entities.

Healthcare organizations need to understand that there is an expectation that health information must be shared when appropriate to treat the patient unless there is a legitimate reason not to share, such as protecting a patient, Yeager explains. If there is a policy that prohibits sharing, as long as it is applied consistently, it is not prohibited by the law, she adds.

The final rule is going to be very important because it will establish standards and consequences, Yeager cautions. “It’s important that stakeholders walk through scenarios,” she advises. There may be gentle enforcement for some time before HHS takes any action so that the industry can have time to interpret and apply the rules."

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