The ONC Cures Act gives workers the right to access their personal health information from anywhere.
A worker at one business uses their phone to bring up health history before an appointment. Another worker does the same at a different organization to access—in real time—wellness data in their electronic health record (EHR). It wasn’t that long ago that such scenarios were unlikely thanks to restrictions imposed by many EHR vendors. Now, however, they’re about to become much more common, especially at companies equipped with the right technologies.
The change comes on the heels of a new final rule from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that impacts the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act) signed into federal law in 2016 with a focus on improving U.S. healthcare, the Cures Act includes provisions intended to make it easier for patients to access their personal health information. The HHS mandate was put forth by the agency’s Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and is based on Cures Act stipulations related to device interoperability and patient data exchange.
Here’s a closer look at the new rule and what it means for occupational health teams and their workers.
The ONC Cures Act Final Rule
While the ONC Cures Act Final Rule went into effect in mid-2020, its requirements have only been enforced by the HHS Office of Inspector General since September 2023. Specifically, the law prohibits health IT developers and others in the industry from “information blocking,” or interfering with the access and exchange of electronic health information. Common types of information blocking include:
- Disability or restricting capabilities in an EHR system to exchange data between that system and another,
- Imposing excessive costs on customers for connecting EHR systems to other digital solutions, or
- Configuring or deploying technology that limits the types of data that can be exported from the solution.
Moving forward, any entity found to have committed information blocking may be subject to financial penalties of up to $1 million per violation.
The rule, the ONC explains , “aims to increase innovation and competition by fostering an ecosystem of new applications to provide patients with more choices in their healthcare.” It does so through provisions that require certified EHR systems to support the use of software communication technologies called application programming interfaces, or APIs.
Widespread deployment of APIs will allow individuals to securely and seamlessly access electronic health information with nothing more than an app on their smartphone, the ONC notes. It will make data stored in the electronic health record available to that patient at no cost and no matter where they are, and as the law itself explains, support “health care providers’ independence to choose the ‘provider-facing’ third-party services they want to use to interact with the certified API technology they have acquired.”
Implications for Occupational Health Teams
For occupational health professionals wondering what these developments could mean for them and their colleagues, the first thing to note is that the new rule reflects a growing desire amongst patients for greater accessibility to their personal health data, anywhere, at any time, and in turn giving them greater control over their health data and empowering their health decision-making.
The Cures Act Final Rule, according to the ONC, “fosters innovation” in the healthcare industry “to deliver better information, more conveniently, to patients and their providers”. This information includes everything from clinical notes and test results to imaging reports and medication lists. Occupational health teams can take advantage of the law by leveraging enterprise EHS solutions designed to meet the specific needs of their employees. Platforms with robust API architecture, best-in-class data security protocols and mobile capabilities are uniquely positioned to service the evolving needs of patients, who are looking to be able to access their medical records with nothing more than a click on their smartphone.
And improving patient accessibility to their health records equally benefits occupational health clinics. Making patient EHR data accessible through secure mobile services will reduce administrative workloads on front-line clinicians and clinic administrative staff, freeing them up to focus on more urgent priorities than printing out a patient medical file.
Choosing an EHS Software for Occupational Health
When workers are empowered to retrieve and review their personal health information without assistance when it’s convenient to them, clinicians can train their attention on value-added work like patient consultations and delivering care.
The key is to ensure that your EHS software vendor offers a solution that A) makes it easy to aggregate health data from multiple sources in a single location; B) does so while also taking reasonable steps to protect data confidentially with advanced security protocols that follow industry best practices; and C) makes electronic health information available through a mobile app designed to support end-user decision making and intervention.
Find a platform that covers these bases and you’ll have a technology that not only helps your workers take greater control of their health and wellbeing, but helps your occupational health staff does their jobs more efficiently, leading to better overall occupational health program outcomes. . Employees will appreciate the fact that they won’t have to fight to gather the records that are rightfully theirs, and you’ll be able to focus on the most important part of your job—helping those workers get back to optimal health & wellbeing.
myCority: Mobile EHS
Occupational health teams have always had a choice when it comes to available technology to manage employee health data. What they haven’t always had, however, is such a clear incentive to select an occupational health software solution that’s mobile-ready.
That’s where CorityOne comes into play. CorityOne offers the world’s most comprehensive mobile –first occupational health platform to empower workers at every level of the business take a leading role in managing their health & wellbeing at work.
Accessible on any tablet, device or smartphone, myCority lets employees easily visualize and monitor their health data in real0time, and even download a full copy of their employee medical record in a matter of seconds, anywhere they happen to be. The powerful myCority app also gives your employees real-time access to their personal “Wellness Indicators,” CorityOne’s series of health-focused metrics driven from specific health data contained in their EHR.
With myCority, employees are empowered to take active control of their health. Employees get a tool that offers reliable, anywhere, anytime access to all the important details from their medical history which enables them to make healthier decisions.
The ONC Cures Act Final Rule, marks a pivotal moment in the healthcare industry. Greater accessibility to an individual’s personal health data has significant implications for OH teams and the employees they serve. Aligning with the growing demand for easy and real-time access to health information, OH teams can leverage EHS solutions that enable workers and alleviate burden.
Embracing this technological shift enhances engagement, reduces administrative workload, and delivers more efficient and patient-centric care. In the ever-evolving healthcare landscape, the focus should remain on adapting and capitalizing on these advancements to promote the overall health and wellbeing of workers.