June 30, 2020

ONC's Cures Act Final Rule

The 21st Century Cures Act Final Rule was published on May 1, 2020 and is designed to help accelerate medical product development and bring new innovations and advances to patients who need them faster and more efficiently. Putting patients in charge of their health records is a key piece of patient control, which is a core component of today’s value-based health care system. 

The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) recently released the Cures Act Final Rule which outlines the interoperability requirements of the program. The rule is designed to give patients and their healthcare providers secure access to health information. It also aims to increase innovation and competition by fostering an ecosystem of new applications to provide patients with more choices in their healthcare.

It calls on the healthcare industry to adopt standardized application programming interfaces (APIs) which will help allow individuals to securely and easily access structured electronic health information using smartphone applications.

The rule includes a provision requiring that patients can electronically access all of their electronic health information (EHI), structured and/or unstructured, at no cost.

What does this mean for patients & providers?

Once fully implemented, the Cures Act it will benefit the various participants in the U.S. healthcare system in a variety of ways. 

For patients, the final rule creates ease of access to their records through smartphones and modern software apps. Patient privacy and security will be protected through the use of OAuth 2 technology to authorize access to medical record data – the same highly secure protocol used with banking apps. The final rule will also expand patient and payer choice in healthcare by increasing the availability of data about care quality and costs, which can be used to assist in making decisions.

For providers, the final rule aims for a thoughtful balance between patient and clinician needs. The final rule will offer providers advantages such as being able to provide patients access to their information in a fully automated, low-cost manner via an app of their choice. Secure, standardized application programming interfaces (APIs) allow for this access without any special effort on the part of the provider. The final rule calls for open APIs, which encourages secure access to data for applications, and will help ensure these certified APIs are made available in a way that is safe, secure and affordable. 

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