21st Century Cures Act
The 21st Century Cures Act was a United States legislation enacted by the114th United States Congress and signed into law by President Obama on December 13th, 2021. It authorized up to six hundred and seven million dollars in research funding, primarily for the National Institutes of Health, for projects involving the design and manufacture of Electronic Health Record Systems. This is known as the Electronic Health Records (EHR) project. The funding is made possible through a number of different bills and legislation such as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2021 (ARRA), the Health Information Technology Implementation Act (HITEA), and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
The 21st Century Cures Act was designed to prevent and remove obstacles that might impede health information networks from maintaining patient information, and also streamline healthcare system development by improving information blocking technologies used by providers, payers, and systems within the healthcare system. According to the Act, providers may block information deemed confidential or privileged. Providers will only be able to do this with prior permission from the patient or their legal guardians. Also, payment will not be waived simply because the information has been blocked. Further, the Act requires the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to establish rules and guidelines that address information blocking.
The main goal of the EHR and other healthcare IT systems developed and implemented by health information networks was to make the healthcare experience more streamlined, organized, and accurate. With the implementation of the EHR and other information blocking technologies, this is now easier said than done. As a result of the 21st Century Cures Act, it is now illegal to deny patients access to healthcare information based on “privilege” or “confidentiality.” Although there are still a few holdouts, such as physicians, information technology administrators, and network administrators, the EHR revolution is now well and truly upon us.