21st Century Cures Act compliance challenges
Building a unified patient record
Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects towards compliance is developing a single longitudinal patient record that can pull in data from disparate sources. This is a challenge primarily because current hospitals and payer systems are using legacy and modern EHRs that don’t have the ability to communicate with one another. Unfortunately, as this infrastructure has become established over a long period of time, it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Standardized API implementation
If developing a unified patient record is one of the major goals of the 21st Century Cures Act, then the avenue towards accomplishing it is through the standardized API rollout for patient and population services. SMART on FHIR integration with EHRs have their own unique challenges in that they require organizations to handle data matching, keep up with resource allocation, and test compatibility with current local servers.
Maintaining complete data privacy while providing patient access can seem somewhat contradictory. While this is a tricky line to thread, organizations need to be able to follow through with Patient Access requirements while maintaining the HIPAA Privacy Rule. This will require additional layers of security through authentication and encryption service layers.
Solutions for current challenges
While it may seem like there is a lot of time before several of the compliance requirements go into effect, this would be a major oversight. A significant technological overhaul that takes into account several parts of the health IT ecosystem and consolidates them into one single record will take time and resources.
By working with a certified third-party vendor that integrates with all major systems in the market, providers and payers can aggregate data across multiple EMR systems to provide longitudinal records via the SMART on FHIR API.
Certification is an extremely important aspect of a tool as this illustrates that it has been live tested by an Authorized Certification Body (ACB) within the ONC Health IT Certification Program. At the moment, there are only a handful that have been certified for EHI Export and the Standardized API for patient and population services.
Become part of the future of health IT
Completely overhauling a health system that has been entrenched in legacy systems for so long will be a challenge. The challenge, however, will be worth it as lower barriers to important information as well as greater provider to provider or provider to payer communication will result in a healthcare landscape that delivers a higher quality of care for current enrollees. Additionally, the payoff for compliance on the provider side will include reduced administrative workloads and providers that are focused on patient issues instead of tedious office tasks.
As the compliance dates for getting closer to a more digitally transformed healthcare ecosystem draws near, organizations will be wise to partner with vendors that are certified to do the job of consolidating patient records and making them easily available to patients and all of their providers.