Cures Act in the New Year: Four Simple Ways to Make the Transition Easier

By Patti Barkey, COE, Bowden Eye & Associates
Eye Surgery Center of North Florida, LLC
Dry Eye University – Dry Eye Access

The 21st Century Cures Act (also known simply as the Cures Act), signed into law on December 13, 2016, is bipartisan legislation designed to increase choice and access to electronic health information for patients and providers. Provisions in the law are intended to help accelerate drug and medical product development as well as bring new innovations and advances to the patients who need them faster and more efficiently.

The Cures Act also aims to reduce regulatory issues associated with the use of electronic health record (EHR) systems and health information technology. Provisions in this area focus on expanding interoperability and requiring developers not to engage in the prevention or interference to access, exchange, or use of electronic health information (EHI), sometimes also referred to as “information blocking.”

At its very foundation, the Cures Act is meant to be a solution to a problem for those in healthcare, a means of making patient care and care coordination easier for all involved. Over the years, a variety of solutions have been developed and implemented as science and technology have helped healthcare advance. And over the years, there’s been a sense of panic or doom and gloom as their execution dates loomed, and implementations were made out to be harder and a bigger threat than they ended up being. In this respect, I see the Cures Act being no different.

As of New Year’s Eve, the new HL7® FHIR® API capabilities and other Cures update criteria must be available. And notably – next year when the ball drops in Times Square in 2023 – the Cures Act milestone of requiring EHI export capabilities must be available for all of those who are eligible.

As we’ve also seen in the past, there are steps we can take to make these transitions easier for everyone:

  • Partner with strong third-party solutions and create a solid infrastructure. If your own base is strong within your organization, this implementation becomes just another box to check.
  • Surround yourself with experts. This keeps you compliant, keeps your staff productive and out of the weeds, and keeps patient engagement up.
  • Proactively research where things will be affected the most and create a checklist. This keeps you and your staff organized and prevents hiccups from becoming the end of the world.
  • Know your system has your back. This is key and is one of the reasons we value our partnership with Nextech. Nextech is working hard to meaningfully address the Cures Act, making sure everyone knows what’s going on and that their system is up-to-date so no one has to call to check on what’s going on.

When it comes to implementation of new rules or laws like the Cures Act, many practices forget their partnerships. Vendors like Nextech – those involved in the infrastructure of the business – can be instrumental in helping to keep things on track. This means practices can keep doing what they do best – quality clinical care. They are more than transactional pieces of the business puzzle, they are strategic partners – to scale, to grow, to operate, and to optimize. In some respects, that relationship more of the value add than the technology itself.

You don’t have to know the answer to everything, you just must know where to get the answers you need. As we move toward more elements of the Cures Act taking effect this year, I invite my colleagues in the healthcare industry to lean on their partners and vendors to get the answers they need and to make the process as easy as possible for all involved.

This is a sponsored article from Nextech.