On September 23rd, I participated in a panel titled “ONC Rules on Data Sharing,” as part of the National Association of ACOs’ (NAACOS) 2020 Fall Conference. The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology’s 21st Century Cures Act Final Rule was published on May 1st of this year, concurrent with the CMS sister rule on interoperability and patient access. The publication officially began the six-month preparation period for developers and clinicians to comply with several of the final rule’s first requirements. Undoubtedly, providers and payers must understand the impact of these new HIT rules from a compliance standpoint. However, the more important goal should be to prepare to leverage them to their organization’s advantage.
The Cures Act Expands Patient Access to their Health Information
As I stressed during the NAACOS panel, Dr. Don Rucker of the ONC and CMS Administrator, Seema Verma, emphasized that a fundamental element of the Cures Act involves dramatically expanding patient access to their electronic health information. The ONC final rule gives patients greater ability to use and share their electronic healthcare data, delivering benefits that include transparency into costs and care outcomes as well as comparing medical care options. It will be possible for patients to see their information on their smartphone by using downloadable applications developed and deployed with appropriate levels of authentication and security.
Organizations Will Adopt the USCDI
The USCDI is the standardized set of data classes and elements that must be made accessible for the first 24 months of the Cure’s Act. The expectation is when the rules become active, all developers will have adopted this standard. Following the first 24 months, the standard set of USCDI data will expand to include additional electronic health information data.
The Act Improves Provider Access and Deters Information Blocking
The Cures Act expands providers’ capabilities to access and share their patients’ data via secure technical processes known as application programming interfaces (APIs). The open APIs promote variety, innovation, safety, and protection for clinicians, patients, and developers.
One of the Cures Act’s key elements discussed on the panel was the strict prohibiting of information blocking, minus select “exceptions.” The Cures Act aims to deter the restrictions on access to critically important healthcare information that many providers face when delivering informed care to their patients.
There is more to cover when it comes to the extensive 21st Century Cures Act. I want to invite you to Implementing the 21st Century Cures Act: Insights from ONC National Coordinator Dr. Don Rucker. On October 28th, Dr. Rucker will join me to discuss additional details of the 21st Century Cures Act and how population health organizations can leverage the rule’s intended benefits to deliver better informed, higher quality care in a more transparent, efficient environment. Register at the above link and submit a question to ask Dr. Rucker. I hope you will join us.
Kent Locklear, MD, MBA is Lightbeam’s Chief Medical Officer.