The Cures Act Final Rule – Revisions to CEHRT Development

The 21st Century Cures Act Final rule was introduced on May 1, 2020. It institutes crucial changes to the definition of Certified Electronic Health Record Technology (CEHRT). This means the current standards that define the format of the structured data which EHR systems use are set to change. We will now take a look at the updates and how they will influence EHR systems in the coming months.

The vision for nationwide interoperability of healthcare information is currently directed by the ONC through the 2015 Edition Health Information Technology (Health IT) Certification Criteria. So when changes are introduced to this driving force of healthcare technology, you must, as a HIT vendor, get back to the drawing board to strategize for compliance.

Today, half a decade later, provisions from the 21st Century Cures Act have been instated to evolve the definition of HIT. They introduce key additions and revisions to the 2015 edition HIT certification criteria. Since the criteria influence the base Electronic Health Record Definition of the ONC, developers of EHR systems must now tread carefully or risk tarnishing the marketability of their product.

The Magnitude of the Change

The changes that the Cures Act Final Rule introduces to the 2015 Edition CEHRT Criteria are sizable and profound. They can be classified into three types for a better understanding. Here’s what they contain:

Time-Limited and Removed Criteria:

The intention behind the removal of these criteria that once defined CEHRT is to simplify things for EHR vendors. This makes the process of certification and renewals easy, enabling the EHR system developers to focus on innovation. Much of the redundancy piled on the pressure on EHR developers has been eliminated. Some of the following ‘removed criteria’ are time-limited. Although they are not removed, their inclusion is not mandatory as a standalone requirement. They will be covered adequately by newer evolutions like USCDI and EHI export. They are:

  • Problem, Medication and Medication Allergy Lists
  • Smoking Status
  • Common Clinical Data Set Summary Record
  • Drug Formulary & Preferred Drug List
  • Data Export
  • Application Access

Revised Criteria:

The ‘changed’ or revised criteria largely fall under three classifications based on their impact on interoperability, security, and reporting. These mainly comprise modifications to safeguard the integrity and privacy of health information that would be driven by USCDI and information blocking definitions. The revised criteria encompass:

  • Security tags for a summary of care
  • Clinical quality measures (CQMs)
  • ASTM Healthcare Standards
  • Application access

New Criteria:

To foster the seamless and universal exchange of health information, the ONC has released criteria and standards that define electronic healthcare data. These new criteria will customize electronic patient health information (ePHI) and define data encryption standards to support the ONC’s vision of nationwide interoperability. The new criteria introduce changes to:

  • EHI export
  • API standardization and access
  • Electronic Prescribing

The Road Ahead

The ONC aims to systematically enforce its vision of nationwide interoperability of healthcare information strictly with deadlines and without hurting the business prospects of EHR developers.The change in EHR development is imminent. Those who embrace the changes fast will stand to reap greater benefits. Establishing your EHR product as a certified product as per the mandates of the 21st Century Cures Act will give you a head start with gaining the confidence of your clients, i.e. healthcare facilities and clinics.

Upgrading your product for compliance would be easier with a competent technology partner with wide experience in healthcare data standards, workflow customization and healthcare technology development.

Check out our whitepaper (hyperlink to be added) that gives you a detailed perspective of the impact of the Cures Act Final Rule. With the first deadline set to tee off on January 1, 2021, the time to begin compliance is now.

Learn more about the updates to CEHRT from our recent webinar


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Puneeth Salian

Puneeth Salian

A writer in Healthcare domain, who is also a science and technology enthusiast. Enjoys creating interesting pieces that elucidate the latest Healthcare IT trends and advancements.
Puneeth Salian

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