Update on the 21st Century Cures Act September 19, 2017
One of President Obama’s last undertakings while still in office was to sign into law the 21st Century Cures Act, popularly known as the Cures Act. The bill provides funding for innovations in healthcare, including grant funds for the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to address the growing opioid crisis.
The Cures Act also amends a previous act, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, “to require HHS to establish a goal, develop a strategy, and make recommendations to reduce regulatory or administrative burdens relating to the use of electronic health records (EHR).” The Act establishes guidelines for health information technology and states that the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) must establish a framework for interoperability between systems.
Today, the status of the Cures Act is somewhat uncertain given the new administration’s focus on reducing regulations as well as a hiring freeze on executive branch positions. However, some progress is being made.
The ONC is gathering feedback from healthcare stakeholders regarding the interoperability mandate. The office released their Proposed Interoperability Standards Measurement Framework in April 2017. A number of healthcare groups have provided responses to the proposed framework. The concept of interoperability is generally accepted as necessary and helpful in coordinating care effectively; however, many respondents pointed out there are a number of barriers to successful interoperability.
The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is also moving forward with implementing some of the changes described in the Cures Act. The FDA has posted a list of 21st Century Cures Act Deliverables, last updated in July 2017, which includes the status of those deliverables and availability of documents on their website.
Elation Health will continue to monitor the status of the 21st Century Cures Act, to keep independent physicians informed of further updates.