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Experienced Data Blocking? CMS Wants to Hear Your Story

By: Nextech | June 15th, 2015

Experienced Data Blocking? CMS Wants to Hear Your Story Blog Feature


To say it’s a priority for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would be an understatement.

As an added effort to encourage interoperability between vendors and providers, the CMS is calling on everyone in the medical community to – for lack of a better word – snitch.

The Obama Administration Wants to Know

According to a report by Modern Healthcare, the CMS is making a strong push to hear from patients and providers who have experienced data blocking.

With the creation of a new email address – – the CMS is calling on victims to share their stories of information and data blocking. Acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt announced explained the initiative at the Health Datapalooza conference last week, solidifying the administration’s firm position against data blocking.

Slavitt added that the agency plans to act on the emails received, but how they do so remains a bit of a mystery, considering they’ve self-acknowledged the lack of tools to do so.

In 2014, the agency received approximately 60 unsolicited reports of information blocking ranging from excessive costs for information sharing and difficulty downloading EHR information, among other issues. However, ONC head Dr. Karen DeSalvo said we “don’t have a lot of quantified information right now.”

The CMS is hoping its new plan of attack in soliciting instances of information blocking via the email address will help combat the lack of quantified information. Additionally, there are also suggestions for the government-conducted surveys in order to gain even more information regarding data blocking.

Punishments on the Horizon

In theory, interoperability is a great idea, considering how it would simplify the sharing of patient information between EHRs and medical providers without compromising HIPAA privacy standards.

But getting all vendors on board has been a different story. Unwilling to lose a perceived competitive edge, some healthcare organizations and vendors have been intentionally participating in information blocking, which has slowed down interoperability considerably.

In efforts to minimize this issue, the CMS has threatened to decertify vendors who don’t comply with interoperability through laws such as the 21st Century Cures Act.

 It remains to be seen whether or not the addition of this “snitching” program by the CMS, combined with other initiatives, will help the agency push back against data blocking. But it’s clear the government is desperate to put a stop to it.

“We would like to hear about every example – small, medium, large – when someone is getting in the way of interoperability,” Slavitt said back in April. “We want as a team to hear about these examples and confront them.”

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