As the deadline for compliance with the Cures Act approaches, it’s important that health IT providers have a plan for adapting to the new regulations. The Cures Act Final Rule will put rules in place to prevent information blocking from EHR interfaces.
Health IT companies who do not follow the regulations will be charged a civil monetary penalty of $1 million per violation. Not only do companies risk this financial penalty, but companies not in compliance may also risk reputation loss or a loss of customers.
Continue reading for eight things to do to ensure compliance with Cures Act information blocking regulations.
1. Eliminate Fees For Patient Access and Reduce Feed For Physician Access
One issue that is considered to be information blocking is excessively high fees for patients and/or healthcare providers. The Cures Act will make it a requirement for EHRs to be accessible to patients, free of charge.
Lawmakers understand that health IT companies have to make a profit. Therefore, companies are allowed to implement reasonable fees for physicians to continue using the technology. It is important to examine the Cures Act or speak to a professional to ascertain what would be considered a reasonable fee for physician access.
2. Simplify and Standardize Technology Implementation
The next thing that EHR management companies will need to implement is to simplify and standardize technology. There are a few things to think about when simplifying an EHR system or program. Basic measures could include:
- Relatively quick installation process
- Simple interface with clear buttons, tabs and pages
- Standardized language
- Ease of data exportation and transfer
Assessing a system for the above items will make EHRs more accessible to people of all technological abilities.
3. Make Sure Information is Accessible During Exports and Transitions
Often, electronic health information becomes inaccessible during exports and transitions from one EHR interface to another. Companies should implement capabilities that allow healthcare providers and patients to access information while data is being moved.
Most routine data exports can take weeks, even months. Patients and healthcare providers may need to access important health information during these times. This is why health IT companies need to ensure that this information can be easily accessed.
4. Allow Physicians to Link EHRs to Clinical Data Registries
An important aspect of collecting data is the ability to add it to clinical data registries. A clinical data registry is a database that collects healthcare information. It may be used to track diseases or interpret health trends. Updating clinical data registries is important for public health.
Electronic health records should be easily linkable to clinical data registries. Healthcare providers should be able to choose which records are added to these databases with just a click. Adding interoperability capabilities will help to ensure compliance with the Cures Act.
5. Lift Unfair Restrictions on Physician Access and Use
It should not be difficult for healthcare providers to access electronic health information. Specialists and other non-primary care providers often struggle to access EHRs because they face restrictions from the interface.
While security should be of the utmost importance and in accord with HIPAA regulations, physicians should not be restricted from seeing their patients’ medical information. Health IT companies should implement faster and simpler ways for healthcare professionals to get access to information.
6. Create Application Programming Interfaces for Easy Patient Access
One aspect of the Cures Act is that healthcare IT companies are required to implement Application Programming Interfaces (API) so that patients can access their medical records right on their tablets or smartphones. These APIs will need to be secure and follow HIPAA regulations.
Patients can use EHR-integrated applications to view lab results, look at doctor notes or view prescriptions. With more accessibility through technology, patients have more control over their own health.
7. Allow Patients to Send Medical Records From One Provider to Another
With most EHR interfaces, trying to send medical records from one EHR system to another can be very difficult. It often takes several hours or even days to complete, as most systems are not compatible. The Cures Act would make health IT companies implement transferring capabilities that would make sending medical records more secure.
Many EHRs only allow for provider-to-provider transfer. However, with the Cures Act patients will also have the ability to send electronic health records to their provider. Companies should be sure to implement these kinds of features to be in compliance with new regulations.
8. Understand the Exceptions and Implement Corresponding Features
There are a few different exceptions to the information blocking regulations. One such exception is that information can be blocked if the patient is in danger.
Here is a situation in which EHRs can implement features to correspond with this exception: a minor receives treatment for broken bones and confidentially reports to their doctor that they are a victim of physical abuse from their parents. The doctor writes it in the patient notes and uses a ‘block information’ feature so that the parent cannot view the notes.
Features like these can help protect the patient and therefore fall under exceptions. However, it is important to note that certain exceptions have to be thoroughly documented.
EHR Data Management: Sharing and Integration
One way that EHRs can comply with Cures Act regulations better is by integrating a seamless EHR data management system. Healthjump is one of these systems. It provides excellent data management capabilities for practices that want to take control of their EHR data and access it for themselves or leverage an API so their electronic health information is easily accessible and shareable to authorized third-parties. Learn more about Healthjump.