A recent study printed in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA) revealed that information blocking by electronic health record (EHR) vendors remains remarkably rampant in spite of recent policymaking that forbids information such practices.
To determine the magnitude of the issue, the researchers surveyed health information exchange organizations (HIEs). HIEs were selected since they are directly linked to health systems and EHR vendors and are consequently in the best position to evaluate interoperability and information sharing.
Of 106 HIEs that satisfied the qualification requirements, 86 replied with answers to these three questions:
- How are these information blocking practices done?
- When do EHR vendors and health systems practice information blocking?
- What is the effect of local market competition on information blocking behavior?
Most of HIEs (55%) reported that incidents of information blocking by EHR vendors a number of times. 14% reported all EHR vendors engaged in information blocking. 30% of survey participants claimed information blocking happened with several health systems.
The most common information blocking practice done by EHR vendors reported by 42% of respondents was setting unfairly high prices. The next most common information blocking practice that 23% of respondents reported was artificial barriers.
The most common information blocking practice among health systems reported by 15% of respondents was declining to share health data. 10% of respondents mentioned artificial barriers. The researchers identified a relationship between information blocking and territorial competition among vendors, with certain geographic regions having more instances of information blocking. 47% of respondents mentioned higher incidents of information blocking among EHR vendors in developer markets that are more competitive. 31% of respondents said high occurrences of information blocking among health systems in competitive markets as well.
The HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s (ONC) final interoperability regulations forbids intentional information blocking. As the observance of the new rules starts, monitoring of stakeholders with reports of information blocking, such as HIEs, will be crucial to recognize where reductions take place, where information blocking practices remain a problem, and what is the best way to resolve continued efforts.
The results of the study reflect a prior study in 2016. The information of both will serve as a standard against which information blocking may be assessed later on.
Considering the constantly high incidents of information blocking reported by concerned actors, the report data support the value of defining and addressing it by means of planned enactment of the final rules, explanation of penalties, and enforcement for those discovered to have done information blocking. The findings of the researchers likewise give insight into how enforcement initiatives may be targeted and one valuable approach to tracking their effectiveness.