ONC Stretches Deadline for Information Blocking and Interoperability Rule Compliance

The deadline for compliance with the mandated information blocking and health IT certification of the 21st Century Cures Act was moved further due to the current coronavirus pandemic.

The US Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) introduced on October 29, 2020 the release of an interim final rule with the period for commenting prolonged the compliance dates and time frames for achieving specific information blocking and Conditions and Maintenance of Certification (CoC/MoC) prerequisites.

The ONC’s Cures Act Final Rule, introduced on March 9, 2020, described exceptions to the information blocking provision of the 21st Century Cures Act and used new Health IT certification requirements which, by means of the usage of application programming interfaces (APIs), would improve patients’ access to their own medical data using their smartphones without spending a dime.

Compliance deadlines were dated for 2020, but health IT stakeholders indicated concern regarding satisfying the due dates because of the COVID-19 pandemic. On April 21, 2020, ONC made an announcement that it is going to exercise enforcement discretion with regard to the compliance deadlines and offered another three months after the preliminary compliance dates for satisfying all of the new prerequisites under the ONC Health IT Certification Program.

Because of the continuing COVID-19 crisis, ONC now provided the healthcare ecosystem with more flexibility and time to take action on the COVID-19 public health emergency and has additionally lengthened the compliance due dates specified in its April 2020 enforcement discretion announcement.

Though there is solid support for improving patient access and clinician coordination through the terms in the final rule, stakeholders likewise need to take care of the needs being experienced throughout the ongoing pandemic, as per the national coordinator for health IT
Don Rucker, MD. ONC is not eliminating the requirements to advance patient access to their health records that are stated in the Cures Act Final Rule. Rather, ONC is giving more time to let every person in the health care ecosystem focus on the COVID-19 response.

The new compliance deadlines are currently as follows:

April 5, 2021

  • Information Blocking CoC/MoC requirements (§ 170.401)
  • Information blocking provisions (45 CFR Part 171)
  • API CoC/MoC requirement (§ 170.404(b)(4)) – compliance for present API standards
  • Assurances CoC/MoC requirements (§ 170.402, except for § 170.402(b)(2) as it relates to § 170.315(b)(10))
  • Communications CoC/MoC requirements (§ 170.403) (not including § 170.403(b)(1) – where we took out the 2020 notice requirement)

December 31, 2022

  • New standardized API functionality (§ 170.315(g)(10))
  • 2015 Edition health IT certification criteria updates (not including § 170.315(b)(10) – EHI export, which is moved until December 31, 2023)

The due date for submission of initial attestations (§ 170.406) and submitting initial plans and results of real-world assessment (§ 170.405(b)(1) and (2)) was prolonged by one calendar year.