ACR addresses anxiety around radiology report access under new information-blocking rules

The American College of Radiology on Monday sought to clear up confusion among imaging providers regarding upcoming federal interoperability regulations.

Specifically, the ACR said it’s fielding many similar questions on whether releasing rad reports via patient portals after a specified period of time will constitute information blocking. While this practice is largely considered medically necessary, as it stands, there is no specified ruling on the topic, the ACR noted.

“It is currently unknown whether HHS investigators would view providers’ medically appropriate patient communication policies as meeting the information blocking definition if reported in the future,” the ACR said in its statement.

It’s common for providers to hold off on immediately releasing reports to patients in order to properly coordinate care, consult with other clinicians, and discuss complex findings, among other reasons.

The college has filed a request with HHS seeking clarification on how investigators may handle this radiology-specific issue if it’s reported. ACR said it has not received a response, but noted it may take time because the program is likely to be delayed.


HHS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology finalized rules in March, which enact the interoperability provision of the 21st Century Cures Act. That date hinged, in part, on the Office of Inspector General (OIG) completing rules penalizing groups that don’t comply with the information-sharing mandates.

An OIG final rule has yet to be submitted for review, however, and the initial November 2020 start date is growing increasingly unlikely.

In its Oct. 26 note, the provider organization explained that most instances implicating the information blocking provisions will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

It also pointed out that non-providers will be subject to a stricter definition of blocking and a different penalty structure compared to providers.

You can read more about the information blocking provision from the ACR here and on the ONC website here.

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