In what can be seen as a huge win for all segments of the healthcare ecosystem, which was two years in the making, overwhelmingly passed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and President Obama signed the legislation on December 13, 2016.
The Cures Act includes sweeping provisions for many facets of healthcare, including biomedical research and precision medicine. Importantly, there are also several health information technology provisions for improvement of electronic health records (EHR) and EHR interoperability. Passing of the Act should enable improved interoperability, as well as more accurate, compete and timely electronic health information exchange that can be used for treatment and research to improve patient health.
In particular, the law mandates the establishment of “a goal with respect to the reduction of regulatory or administrative burdens (such as documentation requirements) relating to the use of electronic health records.” Likewise, it calls for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish strategies to achieve this goal, supporting the transformation of the industry to value-based care.
The Cures Act is an important and crucial step in the right direction for driving further transparency in the marketplace. More specifically, the Act moves the needle toward greater pressure for all healthcare entities to work collaboratively to achieve the interoperability needed to both improve the speed and efficiency of clinical data review, as well to create more complete, accurate and current patient profiles.
When clinical data is aggregated with claims data through an integrated EHR interoperability platform, physicians are then able to gain insights into current patient status, like care, quality and documentation gaps, to improve value across the healthcare ecosystem. And when this information is delivered within their clinical workflow, the result is a seamless, controlled and automated approach to clinical data review and analytically-driven patient encounters.
Mandating free and secure health IT exchange among disparate systems, in addition to creating strict interoperability standards should reduce cost, drastically improve patient care and ultimately unlock data silos. This approach is in full alignment with the transition to real-time, two-way clinical data exchange to support value-based care across healthcare organizations. Although many aspects of healthcare reform remain unknown in light of the new presidential administration, interoperability and its growing importance in the industry continues to play an essential role in the improvement of clinical and quality outcomes and financial performance across the healthcare ecosystem.