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Will electronic health record systems finally be able to “talk to each other” in 2018?

21st Century Cures Act to Help Reduce Administrative Burdens Related to Electronic Health Records

In 2016, Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act. One important piece of the extensive law begins January 1, 2018: the law attempts the transition to electronic health record (EHR) data interoperability. This would essentially enable different EHR systems to talk to one another. The law prohibits the blocking of heath information and explains that not sharing information is “preventing, discouraging, or interfering with the access, exchange, or use of information.”

How exactly electronic health record interoperability will happen is not completely clear, although the law cautions EHR vendors may be “de-certified” in 2019 if they are unable to meet the new standards effective January 1, 2018.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) decided that one way to move forward with improved data sharing was to replace meaningful use with Advancing Care Information and include this as one of the categories of the Quality Payment Program.

The option used to submit data is determined by the EHR edition. Additionally, physicians that decide to report on the advancing care category worth 25% of the total score must attest to the prevention of information blocking.

The attestation includes:

  1. Supporting the appropriate exchange of electronic health information
  2. Not knowingly and willfully limiting or restricting the compatibility or interoperability of the CEHRT

There is no doubt that the sharing of patient data could potentially save lives, time and reduce administrative burden in the process if electronic health records could speak with each other. 

KMA will continue to keep members updated on developments in this area. Visit and follow KMA on Twitter, @kymedassoc, for more information.

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