On December 7, 2016, the US Congress approved the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures legislation), which is intended to accelerate the “discovery, development and delivery” of medical therapies by encouraging public and private biomedical research investment, facilitating innovation review and approval processes, and continuing to invest and modernize the delivery of health care. The massive bill, however, also served as a vehicle for a variety of other health-related measures, including provisions relating to health information technology (HIT) and related digital health initiatives. President Barack Obama has expressed support for the Cures legislation and is expected to sign the bill this month.
The HIT provisions of the Cures legislation in general seek to:
- Reduce administrative and regulatory burdens associated with providers’ use of electronic health records (EHRs)
- Advance interoperability
- Promote standards for HIT
- Curb information blocking
- Improve patient care and access to health information in EHRs
As public and private payers increasingly move from fee-for-service payments to value-based payment models, with a focus on maximizing health outcomes, population health improvement, and patient engagement, HIT—including EHRs and digital health tools—will be increasingly relied upon to collect clinical data, measure quality and cost effectiveness; assure continuity of care between patients and providers in different locations; and develop evidence-based clinical care guidelines.