Electronic health records (EHRs) are supposed to allow for the sharing of health information. If a patient, for example, is found to have an allergy to penicillin at the family doctor’s office, then emergency room and other medical providers should be able to see the allergy in their EHR systems. Unfortunately, EHR systems do not currently share information. Due to federal law, that’s about to change.
Welcome to the 21st Century
The 21st Century Cures Act of 2016 prohibits the blocking of heath information. Section 4200 of the law explains that not sharing information is “preventing, discouraging, or interfering with the access, exchange, or use of information.” The law strives for EHR data interoperability. This means that a penicillin allergy or a medication change entered in one EHR terminal will update the patient’s data throughout our country’s entire EHR
How EHR interoperability will occur is not defined, but the law warns that EHR vendors can be de-certified if information is blocked. The law goes as far as to shield a medical provider from Medicare EHR incentive program penalties should the provider’s EHR system be de-certified.
A letter by 13 stakeholder groups was sent August 2017 to Donald Rucker, MD, National Coordinator of the Office of the National Coordinator and Daniel R. Levinson, Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services to act on the law and order EHR interoperability. The 21st Century Act, stakeholders wrote, “if implemented correctly, can facilitate the sharing of information to both enhance personalized care, as well as strengthen the growing population health model of coordinated high-quality care.”
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