On April 5, 2021, the Final Rule of the 21st Century Cures Act: Interoperability, Information Blocking, and the ONC Health IT Certification Program went into effect. (The original Act was passed in 2016.)
Members have inquired about compliance with this rule, and in general, it should not be difficult based on the information we’ve found.
The essential element of the Cures Act for providers is “information blocking” (applying to electronic health information). Congress and HHS were hearing concerns that sometimes policies were intentionally implemented that made health information exchange difficult, cost-prohibitive, or impossible.
While it’s unlikely that Urgent Cares have such “blocking” policies, it warrants ensuring that your centers are able to securely exchange electronic health information without special efforts by the user, and that you do not interfere with that access or exchange or use.
There are a few exceptions: to prevent harm, to protect privacy, other security reasons, health IT unable to perform due to outage, etc., or infeasibility.
There are also exceptions where data does get exchanged but differently than requested: content, manner, fees (you cannot charge a patient for export of their full record), licensing
If you have an issue that interferes with your ability to access, exchange, or use your patients’ data as you or a requestor see fit, be sure to document it (and ensure you have a process in place to track and monitor these).
Health IT companies have additional requirements for functionality in the coming years to continue to facilitate health information access.
HealthIT.gov has some excellent information, including FAQ’s and additional resources. Please also consult your Compliance Officer and other compliance partners to ensure your policies and processes are in good shape, as none of the above should be considered legal advice from UCA.