In January, Nevada Business Magazine curated a thoughtful group of representatives in the state’s healthcare sector through its monthly industry roundtable. The discussion revealed what top thinkers in the healthcare space had to say about challenges and projections for Nevada healthcare in the coming years.
In particular, Mason Van Houweling of University Medical Center (UMC) hinted at the Federal administration putting forth mandates around electronic health information, which will force many Nevada businesses to alter the way they handle patient health data. Essentially prohibiting what is known as “information blocking,” these mandates will punish any care organization that fails to provide patients with control and access to their own health data. Many Nevada businesses could face serious financial repercussions if they do not act in accordance.
This indication came early last year, when the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) put forth a proposed rule on patient health information – specifically, a mandate from the ONC and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as part of the 21st Century Cures Act. The major shift in the healthcare industry will go into full effect soon, requiring that care providers make substantial changes to the way they manage and exchange health data. The targeted date for finalization of the proposed rule is anticipated to take place this year.
Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act in 2016, which would require CMS and ONC to improve health information interoperability and would later require additional entities to comply with these rules. Certain aims of this law will unquestionably impact health information exchanges and providers.
One of the core tenets of the 21st Century Cures Act is to require the free flow of clinical information between healthcare providers, payers, qualified health information networks and patients.
What does this mean exactly for Nevada healthcare providers?
In refusing to exchange or facilitate the access or use of electronic health information, electronic health record (EHR) vendors can face a fine of upwards of $1 million per instance of information blocking. For providers it can mean losing all of their Medicare and Medicaid funding.
The bottom line
Data sharing will be required, not optional. Information blocking will result in significant penalties, and it is in the best interest for all providers to get ahead of the issue and begin shifting operations to accommodate before it’s too late.
One of the easiest ways for Nevada providers to improve interoperability and avoid information blocking penalties is to join a health information exchange. This mandate will affect all care providers, and it’s in the best interest of vulnerable businesses to pay close attention.