The 21st Century Cures Act and Multiuser Electronic Health Record Access: Potential Pitfalls of Information Release

Simone Arvisais-Anhalt, May Lau, Christoph U. Lehmann, A. Jay Holmgren, Richard J. Medford, Charina M. Ramirez, Clifford N. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Although the Office of The National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s (ONC) Information Blocking Provision in the Cures Act Final Rule is an important step forward in providing patients free and unfettered access to their electronic health information (EHI), in the contexts of multiuser electronic health record (EHR) access and proxy access, concerns on the potential for harm in adolescent care contexts exist. We describe how the provision could erode patients’ (both adolescent and older patients alike) trust and willingness to seek care. The rule’s preventing harm exception does not apply to situations where the patient is a minor and the health care provider wishes to restrict a parent’s or guardian’s access to the minor’s EHI to avoid violating the minor’s confidentiality and potentially harming patient-clinician trust. This may violate previously developed government principles in the design and implementation of EHRs for pediatric care. Creating legally acceptable workarounds by means such as duplicate “shadow charting” will be burdensome (and prohibitive) for health care providers. Under the privacy exception, patients have the opportunity to request information to not be shared; however, depending on institutional practices, providers and patients may have limited awareness of this exception. Notably, the privacy exception states that providers cannot “improperly encourage or induce a patient’s request to block information.” Fearing being found in violation of the information blocking provisions, providers may feel that they are unable to guide patients navigating the release of their EHI in the multiuser or proxy access setting. ONC should provide more detailed guidance on their website and targeted outreach to providers and their specialty organizations that care for adolescents and other individuals affected by the Cures Act, and researchers should carefully monitor charting habits in these multiuser or proxy access situations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere34085
JournalJournal of medical Internet research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022


  • 21st Century Cures Act
  • Adolescent Health
  • Cures act
  • Electronic health information
  • Electronic health record
  • Health IT Policy
  • Health information
  • Information Blocking
  • Information technology
  • Multiuser EHR access
  • Open Notes
  • Patient care
  • Proxy EHR access

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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