The way we store, manage, and share health data is changing.
It’s not just changing because technology is advancing. It’s changing because it has to—by law.
The 21st Century Cures Act became US law in 2016, but some of the rules that it created were only finalized in 2020. That means that many provisions of the Act—and especially those about sharing health data—have come into force only recently.
So what are those rules? And how will they affect sharing health data?
Here’s your quick guide on the 21st Century Cures Act, with a specific focus on how it impacts data sharing in the health field.
Legislators passed the Cures Act with the intention to “accelerate the discovery, development, and delivery of 21st-century cures, and for other purposes.”
It’s a big law and touches many aspects of healthcare in the U.S., including increasing funding for the National Institute of Health (NIH), regulating how health researchers disclose information about their subjects and changing how the FDA regulates research to approve new drugs among many other impacts. In addition, it sets a vision for improving the quality and accessibility of information so that Americans can make informed healthcare decisions while also minimizing reporting burdens on affected healthcare providers and payers.
The specific requirements for electronic health data are detailed in the following two rules:
Both rules are detailed and comprehensive, but here’s a brief description of the provisions that are directly related to digital health data.
This rule is aimed at increasing patient access to their health records and making it easier for health records to be shared between providers and systems. Here are some of the standards that the ONC Final Rule establishes for healthcare providers.
The CMS Interoperability & Patient Access Rule is meant to make it easier for patients to access their own data. It specifically relates to patients in MA organizations, Medicaid and CHIP FFS programs, Medicaid managed care plans, CHIP managed care entities, and QHP issuers on the FFEs. The rule applies to both healthcare providers and payers in those networks.
The rule has several main themes:
The Cures Act and its rules will require many organizations to upgrade their technical infrastructure, so legislators didn’t make all the rules effective immediately. Instead, they gave a series of deadlines to have the right processes and policies in place. Here’s a brief overview of that timeline:
Application programming interfaces (APIs) are basically a connection between two pieces of software. In the context of health data, APIs help one organization transfer health data to another organization or to an application on a patient’s smartphone.
They’re the critical piece of technological infrastructure that payers and providers will need to stay compliant with the 21st Century Cures Act.
But don’t worry—APIs can be less daunting than they sound. The Marble API takes care of all your data connections for you. We make sure that we’re following all the latest regulations so you can feel confident that you’re compliant.
With Marble, you can meet your legal obligations without getting lost in your data connections.
Unlock health data with the Marble API. Get started →