On April 5, 2021, a new federal rule, known as the “CURES Rules” was enacted and requires US healthcare providers to give patients access to all the health information in their electronic medical records without charge. This new information sharing rule from the 21st Century Cures ACT mandates rapid, full access to test results, medication lists, referral information, and clinical notes in electronic formats, on request.
Back in 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability ACT gave patients the legal right to request and receive copies of their records, but this takes time, effort, and money. The new information sharing rule will enable anyone receiving healthcare in the US free, timely access to both ambulatory and inpatient care records through secure online portals. The new legislation also stipulates that people should be able to download their data to third party digital applications (apps) and aggregate all their health records into their digital platform of choice.
Studies show that patients who read what is written about them by clinicians feel more involved in and knowledgeable about their care, feel better prepared for visits, and report being more likely to follow their clinicians’ advice. These results are consistent across ethnic groups, gender, socioeconomic status, and education, and the same benefits accrue to family caregivers.
The “CURES Rules” preclude health care providers from information blocking which is defined as a practice that is likely to interfere with the access, exchange, or use of electronic health information (EHI) with eight defined exceptions, the most common being: preventing harm, privacy, security, infeasibility, IT performance, and content and manner.
Finally, the new rule still does not change who owns health records outright. Records remain the property of hospitals or doctors in half of all US states. Laws in the remaining states view records as having shared ownership with patients.
US healthcare organizations should comply with the rule in a way that helps ensure patients know about their enhanced right to access and use their health information for empowerment and engagement. This is best accomplished by enacting written policies and procedures addressing the new requirements of the CURES ACT. For additional information, please contact Bargnesi Britt PLLC at email@example.com.