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J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2018 Sep 1;25(9):1218-1220. doi: 10.1093/jamia/ocy065.

The 21st Century Cures Act and electronic health records one year later: will patients see the benefits?

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Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
Yale School of Management, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
Department of Health Policy and Management, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
Crowell and Moring LLP, Health Care Group, Washington, District of Columbia, USA.
Section of Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation, Yale-New Haven Hospital, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.


While federal regulation provides patients the right to access their electronic health records and promotes increased use of health information technology, patient access to electronic health records remains limited. The 21st Century Cures Act, signed into law over a year ago, has important provisions that could significantly improve access and availability of health data. Specifically, the provisions call for partnerships among health information exchange networks, educational and research initiatives, and health information technology certification requirements that encourage interoperability. The article reviews the potential benefits and concerns regarding implementation of these provisions, particularly the difficulty of aligning incentives and requirements for data sharing and the question of whether currently proposed rules and guidance will support the goal of improved patient access and health information exchange. Researchers, clinicians, and patients have the power to advocate for improved patient access and interoperability as policy development and implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act continues.


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