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Overcome the challenges of data blockingThe compliance deadline for the information blocking requirements in the 21st Century Cures Act Final Rule is April 5, 2021.

Initially slated for November 2020, the ONC extended the compliance deadline due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The information blocking requirements of the rule are intended to advance patient access and clinician coordination in service to the larger goal of realizing true interoperability across the healthcare ecosystem.

As radiology directors and PACS administrators work to improve interoperability across their imaging enterprise, they can also support their organization’s information blocking compliance efforts.

Continue reading to learn more about information blocking and explore five ways that an intelligent workflow engine can support your HCO’s initiatives. 

What is Information Blocking?

The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health IT defines information blocking as:

“a practice by a health IT developer of certified health IT, health information network, health information exchange, or health care provider that, except as required by law or specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) as a reasonable and necessary activity, is likely to interfere with access, exchange, or use of electronic health information (EHI).”

Information blocking is further defined in 45 CFR 171.103 of the Interim Final Rule. The ONC provides an overview of practices and examples of activities that may constitute information blocking.  

The Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (OIG), responsible for enforcement, has proposed penalties for health IT developers and health information networks/HIEs. As of this writing, no disincentive proposals have been put forward for healthcare providers that fail to comply with the requirements, but surely they are eminent. 

For additional details and clarifications, the ONC’s Information Blocking FAQs are an informative resource. 

How an Imaging Workflow Engine Breaks Down Data Silos

Deploying a medical imaging workflow engine across your healthcare enterprise has numerous benefits, including allowing patient data to move in more efficient and effective ways, unbound by the restraints of technology silos. 

Following are five ways that an intelligent workflow engine can improve interoperability and help your HCO comply with the information blocking provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act: 

  • Supports structured and unstructured data. When unstructured data isn’t supported across your enterprise, critical patient information is inaccessible across the continuum of care.
  • Enables participation in public and private HIEs. The ability to share patient data through local and regional health information exchanges makes imaging studies and reports easily available outside of the hospital’s four walls. 
  • Maintains connections with legacy data and systems. Ironically, upgrading to newer health IT systems that tout interoperability often means that legacy data gets left behind. An effective workflow engine ensures your legacy data is accessible across sources and destinations.
  • Uses reflective storage architecture (RSA). RSA ensures data retrieval is possible, no matter which system in the enterprise holds the data.
  • Employs an intelligent DICOM router. Smart load balancing and other features of a universal DICOM router allow HCOs to easily manage storage availability in their archives so that large imaging files aren’t trapped in data silos.

Your Imaging Enterprise Can Help Stop Information Blocking

As your HCO undertakes initiatives to stop information blocking, don’t overlook how an imaging workflow engine can support these efforts. A robust technology infrastructure can break down data and technology silos to improve interoperability and avoid some of the roadblocks that result in information blocking. 

Contact us to discuss how a medical imaging workflow engine with an intelligent DICOM router can help your HCO stop information blocking. 

Beau Jones

Beau is the President and CEO of DataFirst with more than 22 years of experience in management and leadership roles in the healthcare and information services industries. Learn more about Beau's experiences and qualifications on our Leadership page.