How the 21st Century Cures Act and ONC Final Rule Will Increase Patient Access to EHI

In December of 2016, President Barack Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act into law. This law is designed to accelerate medical innovation and bring new advances to patients faster and more efficiently. Recently, two new rules were added to the act as well as the ONC Final Rule to reduce barriers to patient access to their electronic health information or EHI. Together, these rules are designed to flesh out and improve the provisions included in the 21st Century Cures Act

In our latest article, Iron Bridge examines these two new provisions and how they will allow greater access to EHRs for patients. 

Why Healthcare Providers Need to Reduce Barriers for Accessing Patient EHI

How the 21st Century Cures Act is designed to improve patient outcomes and satisfaction

patient talking to physician

Offering seamless access to your patients’ electronic health records is critical for giving them a greater role in managing their healthcare plans. Patients who are more engaged with you are more likely to remain loyal to your practice while also reducing the need to constantly have to make an effort to connect to them. By remaining informed of their medical care, patients are also likely to be happier with your practice and the medical care it provides them. 

Notable Provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act

Key features designed to remove barriers to patient access to EHI

physicians having a conversation

The 21st Century Cures Act and ONC Final Rule are designed to increase patient access to important EHI. Before the implementation of these rules, patients, physicians, and other healthcare providers faced numerous obstacles when it came to accessing pertinent EHI. Here are the key regulations and rules on EHI access under these two acts. 

Developing and Publishing APIs

Under the 21st Century Cures Act, health IT developers are required to publish application programming interfaces (APIs) that encourage the exchange and use of EHI. Through an API, a health IT developer must offer all of the data elements of a patient’s EHR that are permissible under applicable privacy laws. 

These new APIs will give healthcare providers an easier time sharing important EHI. However, they will need to equip themselves with the correct technology in order to take advantage of these APIs. 

Health IT Certification Program 

The ONC Health IT Certification Program is designed for health IT developers seeking certification for their profession. This voluntary program sets the standards for the functionality of healthcare IT. Under the newest updates to the ONC Final Rule, the U.S. Core Data for Interoperability replaced the Common Clinical Data Set as the default set of health data classes and elements.  

Information Blocking

The newest rules implemented into the 21st Century Cures Act crack down hard on information blocking. Information blocking involves anything that interferes with or prevents the access and exchange of electronic health information. 

The ONC final rule further breaks down regulations on information blocking by defining what does and doesn’t count as information blocking. In total, there are 8 factors or actions that can justify providers’ decisions for allowing limited access to EHI. For example, a physician may not share their patient’s information if they specifically requested to have it kept hidden. Therefore, they would not be considered guilty of engaging in information blocking. Under the new rule, healthcare agencies can also publish information on any facilities they believe might be engaged in information blocking. 

Fhirstation by Iron Bridge

A cutting-edge IT solution to help healthcare providers comply with the 21st Century Cures Act and ONC Final Rule

fhirstation by Iron Bridge

To improve patient access to electronic health records, you need to remain compliant with the 21st Century Cures Act and ONC Final Rule. But finding a solution that can help your organization become compliant can be difficult and time-consuming. That’s where the fhirstation comes in. This secure, Software as a Service (SaaS) solution allows users to quickly access their EHRs and other health plan data. 

The fhirstation’s main features include:

  • Preventing information blocking: Fhirstation prevents information blocking by allowing information exchange between patients, health systems, EHR vendors, and payers
  • Unlocking powerful data analytics: Users have access to a customized data lake that offers powerful data analytics tools. 
  • Fast implementation services: As a healthcare provider, you have a lot of duties and responsibilities on your plate. The faster you implement a health IT solution for compliance, the faster you can integrate it into your services and improve the patient experience. 
  • Adapters: Fhirstation offers adapters to translate health plan data into your FHIR data models

In an instant, you can plug your EHRs or payer system into the fhirstation to enjoy instant compliance. 

Healthcare interoperability is critical for allowing patients to access important EHRs. If you need a health IT solution that improves patient access to important healthcare information, the fhirstation is just what you are looking for. Start implementing this innovative solution into your healthcare operations today and contact the team at Iron Bridge.

Back to blog