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All health care providers, including dentists, will soon be required to comply with a new federal regulation that aims to enhance a patient’s right to access their health information.
The information blocking rule prohibits providers from engaging in any practices that would make it difficult or impossible for patients to access their electronic health records. The rule went into effect April 5, 2021; however, the deadline for providers to be in full compliance with the new law has been extended for an undetermined amount of time due to the pandemic.
Under the new rule, patients will have greater and, at times, immediate access to health information. Medical records covered by the information blocking rule that must be fully accessible are:
Starting Oct. 6, 2022, the rule will apply to all information that a patient has the right to request a copy of under HIPAA.
While the rule grants patients full access to several medical records, it specifically excludes “psychotherapy notes,” as defined by HIPPA, as well as documents and information prepared in anticipation of litigation.
The regulation also specifies eight exceptions that permit providers to block a patient’s access to health information. Providers are not required to provide patients access to health information in certain situations and will not be penalized for doing so if the following exceptions apply:
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology offers full descriptions of the exceptions, including explanations of specified conditions that must be satisfied before the exception will apply.
Providers are advised to review their polices and train staff on how to help patients understand when and how they can choose to access their health information. Providers should also contact their electronic health records vendors to ensure their software is certified to comply with the rule.
Additional information on the new regulation is available in CDA Practice Support’s Information Blocking Rule Q&A.