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What is the 21st Century Cures Act?

By AVS Medical on Fri, Jan 29, 2021

21st Century Cures Act (CURES)

What is the 21st Century Cures Act (CURES) and what it does it mean to your practice? The 21st Century Cures Act  was signed into law by President Obama on December 13, 2016, has broadly impacted medical practices and the healthcare industry as a whole. The CURES act also includes“interoperability and information blocking” rules aimed at advancing interoperability between health IT systems and granting patients easy access to their data.

The 21st Century Cures Act was created to drive electronic access, exchange, and use of health information. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) Cures Act Final Rule implements the interoperability provisions of the Cures Act to promote patient control over their own health information.

What is information blocking?

The 21st Century Cures Act defines information blocking as a “practice that … is likely to interfere with, prevent, or materially discourage access, exchange or use of electronic health information.” Under the law, an “actor” (healthcare provider) who knowingly engages in such a practice can be charged with information blocking. Under the rule, actors receiving a reasonable request for health information must respond in a timely fashion either by sharing specific types of data or claiming one of eight (8) permissible exceptions. Failure to do so could lead to a complaint to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and subsequent information blocking charges.

What deadlines associated with 21st Century Cures do you need to meet?

The ONC initially finalized a compliance date starting six (6) months from the May 1, 2020 publication of the final rules, resulting in a November 2, 2020 compliance deadline for “actors” subject to the information blocking restrictions (e.g., healthcare providers, as well as Health IT developers, health information exchanges, and health information networks).

However, an ONC interim final rule released on October 29, 2020 delays this deadline.

The new regulatory deadline for information blocking is April 5, 2021.

Important Note: Those providers who are subject to MIPS should remember that the Promoting Interoperability performance category requires a three-part “Prevention of Information Blocking” attestation

Are there new ehr certification requirements to comply with 21st century cures?

Yes,  the government has outlined new and updated certification criteria related to interoperability and information blocking rules under the new 2015 Edition Cures Update. Among other things, the new criteria include expanded electronic healthcare information (EHI) requirements and the latest version of the HL7 FHIR standards.


cloud based ehr compliant with 21st century cures
cures Benefits for patients
  • For patients the goal of Cures Act is about access and choice: Patients should be able to access their electronic medical record at no additional cost. 
  • Innovation in health care to deliver better information, more conveniently.
  • Going forward patients will begin to get on-demand access to certain information within their medical records, specifically clinical notes, test results, and medications. 
cures Benefits for providers
  • Responding to patient data requests will become easy and inexpensive. 
  • Patients will be able to access their health information from EHRs using an app of their choice in an automated fashion without any additional action on the part of the provider other than the initial effort to enable the technical capabilities
  • Choice of EHR Software. Providers will choose software that helps them provide better care. You'll benefit from a vibrant competitive marketplace where the choice of software services lies with you and not a health IT developer
  • Improved Patient Safety - Protects patients using practices that prevent the sharing and use of health information that may cause harm through the information blocking. Supports improved patient matching through the exchange of the USCDI and its patient demographic data elements.

The 21st Century Cures ACT or CURES empowers patients to interact with and take greater control of their health record in a modern health IT economy.  Putting patients in charge of their health records is a key piece of patient control in health care, and patient control is at the center of HHS' work toward a value-based health care system.

The ONC Cures Act Final Rule implements interoperability requirements outlined in the Cures Act. Patients need more power in their health care, and access to information is key to making that.

Is your EHR Ready for 21ST Century Cures? Learn more about NextGen Office EHR/PM


AVS Medical

Written by AVS Medical