FTC Submits Comment on Final Information Blocking Rule

The Federal Trade Commission staff has submitted a statement in support of certain changes made by the Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) in ONC’s 21st Century Cures Act: Interoperability, Information Blocking Final Rule.

FTC staff previously submitted a comment when ONC published its proposed rule on interoperability and information blocking. The staff comment supported ONC’s efforts to foster innovation and competition in health information technology (health IT), and suggested changes to help refine ONC’s proposed interoperability and information blocking rule.

In the current statement, FTC staff from the Bureau of Competition, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Office of Policy Planning, and Bureau of Economics express appreciation for the changes that ONC incorporated in the Final Rule in response to FTC staff’s prior comment and continued informal technical assistance. Those changes include:

  • A streamlined definition of electronic health information so that it applies more narrowly to information targeted by the Final Rule’s authorizing statute;
  • A new “content and manner” exception in the final rule that should facilitate near-term compliance with the Final Rule’s requirements regarding electronic health information;
  • Clarified and streamlined concepts of “exchange, access, and use;” and
  • A clarification that the Final Rule does not alter the FTC’s role in protecting the privacy and security of consumers’ personal information.

The Commission vote authorizing staff to submit the statement to ONC was 5-0.