October is here. That doesn’t just mean Fall colors; Halloween and pumpkin spice lattes are back. What that means for health care providers who are using electronic health record systems (EHRs) – including those in wound care – is that they will need to ensure their EHRs are compatible with the 21st Century Cures Act (CURES).
The final rules implementing CURES take effect in October 2022. Until this law was passed, some EHR companies and healthcare organizations made it difficult to share health information to avoid losing business to competitors. Realizing the significant risks this posed to safety and quality of patient care, health care providers, legislators, other businesses and patient advocates came together to develop a framework to encourage patient information sharing and discourage what is now called “information blocking” (the refusal to share health information when otherwise permitted by law). The basic goal of information sharing is to facilitate better health information sharing between health care providers and to give patients more control of their healthcare data.
While the pandemic pushed effective dates out for full implementation of CURES, there will be no more delays. CURES, ready or not, is here. The provisions against information blocking will go into effect October 6, 2022 and health care providers will need to be compliant with the information sharing provisions of the regulations.
We understand this may be a big step, one you’ve likely been working on or already have on your radar. As the CURES compliance deadline approaches, here are five questions to help you understand and be ready for what the CURES means to your wound care practice.
Why was CURES enacted?
The 312-page law, which was passed in 2016 with bipartisan support, was created to help advance innovative medical products and remove barriers to developing those technologies and that enables patients, physicians, healthcare organizations and others to freely share information. The stated goal is to “help modernize and personalize health care, encourage greater innovation, support research, and streamline the system.” HIMSS has provided a great summary of CURES and what it means.
Who does it apply to?
ALL OF US! The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) states that physician offices, hospitals and health information exchanges must allow patients to access their health information from EHRs using an app of their choice in an automated fashion without any additional action on the part of the health care provider other than the initial effort to enable the technical capabilities.
What is the most important component of CURES for your practice to understand?
One of the most important components is the Information Blocking provision. By October 6, 2022 patients’ electronic health information (EHI) must be made available to share with patients and their health care providers electronically and on request.
What is this “FHIR” term I keep hearing about?
According to ONC, “FHIR stands for Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources,” a next-generation interoperability standard created by the standards development organization Health Level 7 (HL7). FHIR is designed to enable health data, including clinical and administrative data, to be quickly and efficiently exchanged.” It’s an IT standard that promotes interoperability, that is, that allows different applications to share information with one another. The FHIR standard is used in a number of industries for its information sharing capabilities and is now being adopted widely throughout the health sector.
Is Net Health Wound Care a certified EHR?
Yes. Net Health Wound Care is one of the first wound care EHRs to ensure interoperability, and our leading-edge digital platform, Tissue Analytics, was one of the first to use the next-generation Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources standard, or FHIR. We are committed to enabling the sharing of data, as permitted by law, to help improve patient care and outcomes.
Am I too late? What can I do now?
If you are a Net Health customer, we’ve got you covered. Net Health Wound Care received ONC certification in 2019. All data in our system can be seamlessly transmitted to any authorized requesting entity, including patients.
We are here to help
We are committed to our clients. Keeping track of the CURES rules and other regulations can feel overwhelming when you are also trying to treat patients and run an efficient wound clinic. Net Health’s Product Compliance Department works tirelessly to monitor these programs and help support compliance with changing regulatory requirements.