CMS recently issued guidance (accessible here) on the three-part “Prevention of Information Blocking” attestation which physicians and other eligible clinicians will need to submit to CMS in order to qualify for points under the “Advancing Care Information” category of the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS).
Although making this attestation and reporting to CMS regarding use of certified EHR technology (CEHRT) is not required to avoid a penalty under the MIPS for 2017, many physicians and group practices wish to report as much as they reasonably can to seek a high score under the MIPS and a positive payment adjustment to their Medicare reimbursements in 2019.
The three-part attestation centers on the representation that the physician/group practice will not knowingly and willfully limit or restrict the compatibility or interoperability of its CEHRT. CMS’s guidance makes clear that physicians and group practices making the attestation must use good faith and reasonable efforts to enable the exchange of electronic health records between appropriate parties.
According to CMS, examples of situations where access to CEHRT could be reasonably restricted include:
- System Maintenance — Disabling CEHRT for as long as reasonably necessary to complete system maintenance, provided that requests for access to EHR information during such time period are responded to when practical;
- Security Concerns — Blocking access to CEHRT when reasonably necessary to ensure the security of EHR information, provided that the blocking was narrowly tailored to the bona fide threat; and
- Patient’s Health and Well-Being — Restricting access to certain information (such as a patient’s sensitive test results), if the clinician reasonably believes that the restriction is necessary to protect the patient’s health or well-being. In the case of sensitive test results, CMS suggests that restricting access to the results could be reasonable until the physician or clinician who ordered the test has reviewed and appropriately communicated the results to the patient.
CMS expects that physicians and group practices making the attestation will ensure that their organizational policies and workflows will not restrict functionality of the CEHRT in any way, and that they will work with their CEHRT vendors to ensure that the CEHRT is fully functional.
If you or your practice will be reporting EHR data to CMS under the MIPS for 2017, a full review of CMS’s guidance on the attestation is recommended (see the five-page guidance here). All physicians and practices reporting EHR data under the MIPS have until March 31, 2018 to report the data and make the attestation.