Are you ready?
This month, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said, "…closing the [Cures Act] enforcement gap is a 'top HHS priority, and we are working hard on this issue right now.' The Act, which prohibits "information blocking" - preventing patients from accessing their health care data - became law in 2016. The pandemic and other challenges delayed enforcement until this year. Enforcement will be expanded to include all Cures Act regulations on October 6, 2022. So far, there have been more than 300 complaints filed by patients/residents, family members and others.
What is the Cures Act?
A key aspect of the Cures Act is the intention to give patients safe and secure access to health data so they can better manage their care and make more informed healthcare decisions.
In March, 2020 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finalized two rules to implement the interoperability and patient access provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act:
- Issued by the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC)
- Issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
To these ends, rules issued under the Cures Act are designed to prevent "information blocking." Providers are not allowed to engage in information blocking, which is defined as anything formally restricting the access or use of electronic health information ("EHI") through contracts or policies. It also prohibits unnecessarily slowing or delaying access or limiting the timeliness of access to EHI or charging for EHI.
Why do we need to worry?
To date, civil monetary penalties for not complying with information-sharing requirements have only been established for technology developers and health information networks.
"It left the provider penalty up to me: the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services," Becerra said recently in a Healthcare IT News article.
This is an issue, he noted, because more than 75% of the complaints submitted to ONC have been about providers - and most have come from patients. Information blocking, he said, leads to stress for patients and families, along with frustration for staff.
"That is not the kind of customer experience any of us should expect, certainly not in the 21st century, from our healthcare system," he said.
How's Mom Can Help
The How's Mom Connections Hub and How's Mom Family App offer an easy, secure and customizable way to share health record data with residents and family members.
- Provide residents' health information to authorized family members (available for PointClickCare users only). Your facility decides which health records to make available to families.
- Medication Lists: Current list of medications
- Vitals : Numerous vital readings including temperature, blood sugar, weight, and more
- Conditions: Any change to current conditions and brief summary update of existing conditions
- Nutrition Orders: Listing of allergies and food restrictions. Updates on recent meals and consumption levels
We've created a comprehensive guide to all things Cures Act on our website. The legislation and rules apply to senior care providers, your IT systems and all other health care providers. Access the key resources to deep dive into the requirements that apply to you, with links to Federal government resources, including:
- Full 21st Century Cures Act legislation text
- Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology final rule
- CMS Interoperability and Patient Access final rule
How's Mom Can Help
The How's Mom team is ready to help navigate the complexity of Cures Act patient access and CMS communication requirements. We can provide a live demo of the How's Mom Connections Hub and How's Mom Family App, as well.