ONC 21st Century Cures Act Final Rule for Patients

What does the ONC’s 21st Century Cures Act mean for patients?

What is the goal of the ONC 21st Century Cures Act Final Rule?

The ONC 21st Century Cures Act Final Rule is focused on empowering patients by making it easier for them to access their electronic healthcare information. Patients will be able to allow third party apps to access their health data through a secure process called OAuth 2. The idea behind this is that in the same way that consumers currently choose reputable banking or travel apps to share their information with, they’ll now be able to exercise that same judgement and freedom to share their electronic medical records.

Why is this important?

Historically, health data has been inaccessible, with consequences like costs increasing due to repeat procedures and patients dying from incomplete information. Breaking down the barriers to data accessibility will allow patients to take greater control of their health by giving them the power to access their medical records and decide who to share the information with.

What does the ONC 21st Century Cures Act Final Rule do?

It supports new ways for patients to access their own health care information. The ONC 21st Century Cures Act Final Rule does this by requiring healthcare providers, like clinicians and hospitals, to provide patients with access to their information through third-party software applications on smartphones and other devices.

The 1upHealth Patient App is an example of a FHIR® API application that patients can use to access their data. In the upcoming weeks, we will be releasing our 1upHealth FHIR® App Gallery to make it even easier for patients to find apps that will help them make more informed decisions about their health.

What kind of data will be made available?

The FHIR® data resources include items like patient demographics, prescriptions, doctors notes, insurance claims, encounters with providers, and clinical data, including laboratory results. The data is accessible from the 10,000+ health systems that the 1upHealth FHIR® API is connected to. For a list of all accessible FHIR® resources, visit here.

Which patients are affected?

This rule enables all patients to have greater access to their electronic medical records. Now, all patients will be able to decide who to share their medical information with, similar to how consumers already freely decide who to share their banking information with.

How does this connect to HIPAA?

Patients already have a legal right to their data under HIPAA. The ONC 21st Century Cures Act supports this right by making electronic access to health data easier than it has ever been. Sharing of data under the ONC 21st Century Cures Act Final Rule doesn’t violate HIPAA because individual patients are authorizing the sharing of their data for personal use, as opposed to the data being shared without the patient’s approval.

How does this connect to the CMS Patient Access and Interoperability Final Rule?

The CMS Rule focuses on healthcare payers, like insurance companies, while the ONC 21st Century Cures Act Final Rule focuses on healthcare providers, like clinicians and hospitals. Both rules are focused on giving patients the power to access and share their health data freely.

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