Interoperability and Patient Access Just Became Law

Morris Panner | HIT Leaders & News | January 1, 2017

When President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act (HR 34) into law in December, the world of healthcare IT was turned on its ear. Interoperability and access – two concepts that have eluded old-school healthcare IT vendors – became enshrined as the cornerstone of the newest and most comprehensive healthcare innovation legislation to date. In addition, although the Act didn’t intend to push healthcare IT into the cloud age, it may very well have, as the required access and sharing will be exceedingly difficult to accomplish without an agile cloud-based system. Like the financial services industry and others before it, the cloud may become a key driver of how information can be easily shared and consumers can be empowered.

Some leading edge vendors and institutions were already making waves by breaking down data barriers both within and across facilities that have previously impeded the creation of a holistic patient health record. The holistic patient health record not only reduces risks of medical errors and dangers such as radiology overexposure, but it can also provides a goldmine for medical research across shared and readily accessible data. During last January’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama announced the establishment of the Cancer Moonshot Initiative. The initiative was put into motion by Vice President Joe Biden following his son’s battle with brain cancer. The focus of Moonshot is to make new treatments available to patients and also to improve our ability to detect and prevent cancer in the first place. The 21st Century Cures Act was designed to enable the Moonshot, improving research and, in the process, changing the role of healthcare IT.

At a series of health conferences this Fall, including the Congress of Neurological Surgeons meeting in San Diego, panels and speakers discussed Moonshot and its potential impact on hard-to-treat brain cancers and the progress made by clinical trials. Across all medical specialties, Moonshot has made several key recommendations such as providing easy access to current and prior patient data, increasing preventive cancer measures, focusing on immunotherapy as the future of cancer care, and establishing a nationwide clinical trial network that will auto-match patients based on genetic profile. Not one individual can accomplish all of this alone. Instead, patients, providers, and vendors must work as a team to accomplish these goals...

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