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Information Blocking & Interoperability

With AveraChart, you get real-time access to medical record information like lab, pathology and diagnostic imaging results. Your physician’s notes are also part of your chart. By offering more timely access to your health information, we believe you can form a more collaborative relationship between you and your care team and be in control of your health care.

As Avera works with its AveraChart portal developer to implement updates guided by federal regulations, primarily issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), with an increased focus on promoting interoperability of health systems and restricting information blocking to improve patient access to health information, you may notice an increase of health information available within your AveraChart portal account. As increased sharing of patient information helps you manage your patient information, as well as aiding Avera in coordinating care, improving health outcomes and reducing costs, such timely sharing may also give you access to test results and documents even before your Avera care team contacts you to review. See Frequently Asked Questions below for more information on the federal government’s regulations on Information Blocking and Promoting Interoperability.

Sharing AveraChart Access with Family Members

You may share your AveraChart access with family members and other individuals. Sharing access is referred to as “proxy” access by another individual to your protected health information. Remember to review proxy access to your account regularly and adjust if necessary. When federal regulations increase your access to electronic health information, your proxy can also access the expanded health information potentially including, but not limited to, your radiology, oncology, obstetrics and gynecology, behavioral health and other sensitive information. View proxy access resources and instructions.

Talk to our Avera care team if you have concerns or questions about proxy access to your account.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is interoperability?

Interoperability is a general term describing the capabilities of separate systems to talk to each other or exchange data through technology. For example, the HHS requires application programming interfaces (APIs) interoperability between Avera’s electronic health record system and certain state health agencies, as well as health information exchanges, to send patient information electronically. Such interoperability makes electronic health information easily available to serve continuation of care needs for patients. HHS promotes interoperability as the means to achieve coordinated care, improve health outcomes and reduce costs.

What is information blocking?

HHS released updated regulations, effective April 2021, with additional requirements going into effect at later dates, on information blocking that apply to health care information technology (IT) developers, health care IT exchanges and health care providers.

Information blocking means a practice that, except as required by law or covered by an exception, is likely to interfere with access, exchange or use of electronic health information (EHI), and if conducted by a health care provider, the provider knows that the practice is unreasonable and is likely to interfere with, prevent or materially discourage access, exchange or use of EHI.

HHS requires health care providers to provide timely access to EHI while being reasonable and prudent given the circumstances.

What are these new federal rules?

Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act and President Obama signed it into law on Dec. 13, 2016. The 21st Century Cures Act emphasizes putting patients in charge of their own health records, and requires that all hospitals give patients easy and secure access to their health information electronically, which is why you hear the term electronic health information, or EHI.

This law put two governmental agencies in charge of making this happen:

  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and
  • The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC)

Both CMS and ONC proposed new rules to address this in 2019 and finalized those rules on May 1, 2020. These rules are called “The Interoperability Rules.” The CMS Final Interoperability Rule defines the requirements for health care systems, while the ONC Final Interoperability Rule defines the required activities and technical requirements to avoid information blocking.

The Interoperability Rules started on April 5, 2021, with more guidance to follow in the coming years.

What information do the regulations require Avera to share with patients?

The information Avera is required to share includes:

  • Each patient’s medical records and billing records
  • Enrollment, payment, claims adjudication and case or medical management record systems maintained by or for a health plan
  • Records used in whole or in part to make decisions about their individual patients

For purposes of this definition, the term “record” means any item, collection or grouping of information that includes protected health information and is maintained, collected, used or disseminated by a covered entity.

What are the information blocking exceptions?

There are some exceptions where the care team does not immediately place information into the electronic medical record. In this case, your care team contacts you in another way before placing the information into your AveraChart. Please contact your clinic if you have questions about information in your AveraChart.

Where can I review government information on promoting interoperability programs?

Anyone interested in reviewing the government regulations around this can visit the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website at CMS.gov.

How do I submit a complaint?

You can submit a complaint about information blocking by contacting the compliance office at Avera or by contacting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Moving Health Forward

Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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