Almost two years ago, the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act) was signed into law. The intent of the Cures Act was to promote and fund the acceleration of research into preventing and curing serious illnesses, advance drug and medical device development, bring focus to the opioid epidemic and improve mental health service delivery. There are a number of provisions that push for greater interoperability, support for human services programs and the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs).
The Cures Act impacts nearly every aspect of healthcare, so we’re diving into the goals and intent to help you understand how your organization could be impacted and how to prepare. Today, we’ll tackle interoperability, which will be required to accomplish all of the goals of the Cures Act. Interoperability “describes the extent to which systems and devices can exchange data and interpret that shared data.” But to really be successful and achieve the desired outcomes, we need to go beyond basic interoperability and completely integrate individual clinical workflows.
Here are some examples of how we can influence change through interoperability.
- Enable users to order and view lab test results. With thousands of labs across the U.S., point-to-point lab connections and individual testing can be costly. This kind of data needs to be tightly integrated into a user’s EHR workflow to drive clinical decision support. Validation of payment prior to ordering labs, notification to staff when those lab results are complete, results that are outside expected ranges and a reminder when standardized tests should be ordered but haven’t been. These are a few examples of the integration that is required to achieve more connected healthcare.
- Integrate imaging tests and other diagnostic tests into workflows. As we move more to whole-person care, where the mind and body are treated as a comprehensive view, it is even more critical that this kind of information is readily available in an EHR. The use of integrated genomic testing allows providers better insight when prescribing medications so they can more accurately and appropriately find the right medication the first time. This kind of precision medicine moves us closer to whole-person care.
- Exchange data with clinical registries. Having insight into public health data enables greater collaboration in the management of the health and wellness of a population. Enabling bi-directional communication with the Immunization Registry Exchange to both register immunization vaccine administration as well as query the forecast ensures greater continuity of care.
- Access and exchange data from medical devices. The integration of home monitoring devices into the clinical workflow allows providers greater visibility into the health of the person they are treating outside of a traditional care setting. Having a real time recording of critical vitals creates a trending view for the care team and creates the opportunity for early intervention to avoid a costly emergency department visit or hospital readmission. Whole-person care demands this kind of integration.
- Enable bi-directional clinical data exchange with health information exchanges (HIEs) and other healthcare providers. Enabling the exchange of data locally, regionally and statewide, as well as nationally through an interoperability framework like Carequality or the Commonwell Health Alliance liberates healthcare data and breaks down the silos of EHRs. These frameworks provide a single on ramp for providers to share clinical data on demand, which supports care coordination and integrated care. No longer is clinical data considered to be a competitive advantage, rather it is now considered ubiquitous and drives innovation and value based on the integration of tools and services. We’re no longer sacrificing usability for the sake of interoperability.
Check out Part 2 of our series next week when we explore adoption of EHR systems in relation to the 21st Century Cures Act.