September 4, 2023

21st Century Cures Act & What It Means for Your Practice

The 21st Century Cures Act has been making waves for a while now. You might have come across this buzzword in conversations or news articles.

Do you know what it is and why it matters to your practice?

The Cures Act is set to revolutionize how we approach medical innovation and patient care. If you aren't aware of what this Act entails and how it can potentially impact your practice, you're in the right place.

Let's unravel the mysteries of the 21st Century Cures Act together and explore its implications for your practice.

What Is the 21st Century Cures Act?

The 21st Century Cures Act is a United States federal law enacted on December 13, 2016. Its main objective is to expedite the discovery and development of new medical treatments and ensure they reach patients more quickly.

The Act aims to bring significant changes to research practices, drug and device development, healthcare delivery, and information sharing among healthcare providers.

The key provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act include:

  1. Funding for research — provides significant funding to support biomedical research and innovation, focusing on advancing precision medicine, cancer research, and the BRAIN Initiative.
  2. Combating Mental Health Illnesses — addresses mental health issues by allocating resources and funding to improve mental health services.
  3. Battling the Opioid Epidemic — supports states in combatting the national opioid epidemic, including funding for prevention, treatment, and recovery programs.
  4. Support for the FDA — allocates substantial support to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to streamline the approval process for drugs and medical devices, reduce bureaucratic hurdles, and promote innovation.
  5. Electronic Health Records — encourages the increased use of electronic health records (EHRs) to improve health information exchange among healthcare providers and patients.
  6. Advancing Telehealth Services — promotes the implementation and expansion of telemedicine services, enabling remote access to healthcare services through technology.

What Are the Benefits of the 21st Century Cures Act?

The 21st Century Cures Act offers several benefits to the healthcare industry and patients. Some of the key advantages include:

  • Streamlined drug and device development and delivery
  • Increased funding for research
  • Advancement of precision medicine
  • Enhanced mental health services
  • Addressing the opioid crisis
  • Advanced interoperability of health information technology
  • Prevents Information blocking, i.e., increased information sharing with patients

How Will It Affect Private Practices?

While the act primarily promotes medical innovation, it also has implications for private practices, particularly regarding information blocking. Information blocking refers to deliberate practices that hinder exchanging or using your patient's electronic health information.

Let's take a look at a few key ways the Cures Act can impact your day-to-day operations:

1. Adoption and Interoperability of Electronic Health Records

The Cures Act encourages practices like yours to adopt certified EHR technology to enhance patient care coordination, data sharing, and administrative processes. You can expect increased efficiency and improved provider communication with better interoperability and streamlined workflows.

2. Expanded Access Telehealth Services

It acknowledges the value of remote healthcare and aims to remove barriers that may have previously limited its use. This means you'll have more opportunities to leverage telemedicine technologies and reach patients conveniently, even from a distance. It's a win-win for both you and your patients!

3. Patient Access to Health Information

Providers must avoid engaging in information blocking. The Act encourages using technology that allows patients to securely access, view, and transmit their health records electronically.

4. Health Information Privacy and Security

While the act promotes improved access to health information, it also includes provisions to safeguard patient privacy and enhance cybersecurity measures. As a private practice, you must adhere to these requirements and comply with regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to protect your patients' data.

How to Ensure Compliance with the Cures Act in Your Practice?

To align with the requirements of the 21st Century Cures Act and ensure compliance, your medical practice should prioritize two key actions:

1. Enable Patient Information Sharing

You must be prepared to share patients' information upon request. Ensure you have the necessary processes and systems to facilitate secure and timely sharing of patient data.

Document all requests for information and record when and how the information was shared. If there are valid exemptions that prevent sharing certain information, document the reasons for the exemption.

2. Upgrade to Cures Act Certified Software

It is essential to update your practice's software to a Cures Act-certified edition as soon as possible. Check with your current software vendor to confirm if they have obtained Cures Act certification by the end of 2022. If they haven't met the deadline, you may need to consider switching to a vendor with the necessary certification.

Here's the timeline outlining the compliance requirements of the 21st Century Cures Act regarding information blocking.

Information sharing timeline for the 21st Century Cures Act
21st Century Cures Act Timeline for Information Sharing

Stay Compliant with Glenwood

The 21st Century Cures Act aims to revolutionize the healthcare industry by promoting medical innovation and improving patient care. The Act promotes seamless data sharing and streamlined administrative tasks through electronic health records (EHRs), and as a private practice, it's imperative to stay informed about its implications.

At Glenwood Systems, we are committed to supporting your success every step of the way. We proudly announce that our GlaceEMR has obtained the 2015 Cures Edition certification. This certification equips your practice with the tools to meet the Act's secure information sharing and interoperability requirements. Your success is our priority, and we are dedicated to being your trusted partner on this journey.

GlaceRCM/EMR - Billing Service For Private Practice

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