Managers at the Office of the National Health IT Coordinator offered some assistance to health organizations confronted with more extensive information blockage in 2022 – particularly with regard to the exchange of electronic health information (EHI).
In a blog post, Kathryn Marchesini and Michael Lipinski offer providers, certified health IT developers and health information networks / exchanges clarity on a deceptively simple question: “And what is EHI anyway?”
Last year, of course, the ONC’s information blocking rules went into effect on April 5th. However, in order to gradually enable these affected institutions to comply, the information blocking rules only covered a subset of EHI – in particular information that is represented by the identified data elements from United States Core Data for Interoperability v1.
“A USCDI data item is the most granular level at which a data item is presented in the USCDI for exchange (e.g., patient’s date of birth, medication, or procedural note),” note ONC officials.
As of October 6, 2022, however, the actors concerned are entitled to information blocking in the full scope of EHI (“unless there is an exception to the information blocking or a law prescribes the non-disclosure of the information”).
So what does EHI include? Further information can be found in the ONC FAQs. But the basic definition is that it is electronically protected health information, ePHI, “if it were included in a particular record, regardless of whether the group of records is used or maintained by or on behalf of a covered entity.”
The EHI definition includes terms defined by the HIPAA rules – but “specifically excludes psychotherapy notes as defined in the HIPAA rules and information compiled in anticipation of legal proceedings that are subject to individual law on access’ standard in HIPAA “.
In addition, it is defined by three key points:
- Information must first conform to the definition of electronic proprietary health information.
- The information must also conform to the definition of a Designated Record Set.
- HIPAA regulated companies should already know what information they maintain and what is EHI.
You can find many more details in the ONC blog post.
Although the due date is nine months away, you “don’t have to wait until October 6,” emphasize Lipinski and Marchesini. “Anyone willing to share more than USCDI v1 is welcome and encouraged to do so within the framework of applicable law.”
Read more in the ONC factsheet.
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