As 2022 draws to a close, it also marks the conclusion of several information-blocking deadlines. Physicians, hospitals and healthcare facilities should ensure they are in compliance with 21st Century Cures Act requirements.
Looking ahead, note that December 31, 2022, is important for the Cures Act. It is technology-related and applies to access for patients and how the information is shared nationally and internationally. By December 31, patients must be given electronic access, free of charge, to their protected health information through an online patient portal or app. Patients will have the ability to review their visit in real time and request changes. Physicians should consider and plan for potential issues that may arise from open records.
As a reminder, this act has major implications for both patients and providers. For patients, it is intended to expand access to their own medical records, which is shown to strengthen patient engagement and improve health outcomes. For healthcare providers, it aims to improve interoperability between health information systems.
If providers do not comply with these requirements, consequences could be severe. The 21st Century Cures Act empowers the HHS Office of Inspector General to issue civil monetary penalties of up to $1 million against software developers, networks or exchanges that interfere with the proper exchange of electronic health information. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra announced that plans to enforce the Cures Act against healthcare providers who improperly block information are a “top priority.” HHS anticipates announcing a specific enforcement of civil monetary penalties by the end of 2022. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the largest payer and regulator of medical practices, has announced its interest in levying civil monetary penalties for providers that improperly block the sharing of electronic health information.
It is important to note that the Cures Act does not apply to physicians who use paper records. For physicians with an electronic health record (EHR) but no patient portal, they do not have to offer a patient portal but must provide the electronic record if requested by the patient.
For more information about the 21st Century Cures Act and open medical records, see MLMIC’s additional resources:
- Considerations for Medical Professionals Navigating Open Medical Records
- Risk Management Tip: Documentation Considerations for EHR Open Notes
We also encourage our policyholders to contact us with any questions regarding the Cures Act or its applications at (844) MMS-LAW1 or firstname.lastname@example.org.