As we discussed in a previous blog, the 21st Century Cures Act, signed into law December 13, 2016, includes a wide variety of provisions impacting healthcare providers. One key provision of the Cures Act extends the protections of the 2005 Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act to health information technology vendors.
The Patient Safety Act creates a voluntary program for all types of healthcare providers to share information relating to quality improvement activities with patient safety organizations (PSOs), and imposes confidentiality and privilege requirements on such reported information to encourage providers to share the information without fear of liability. These federal protections extend to new types of clinical analysis, clinical quality reports, and performance tools containing information that could not be protected under existing state peer review privilege, thus making them the strongest protections available for quality data.
Now, HIT vendors will be treated as providers for reporting purposes, affording the same legal protections to the information they share with a PSO. This clears the way for these vendors to play a pivotal role in improving patient safety, in a protected environment, via a PSO. Providers and their HIT vendors have an unprecedented opportunity to work together to investigate and analyze problems associated with HIT, including electronic health record usability and functionality.
Presently, the data contained within many HIT solutions is used to track performance compared to benchmarks and supplement information for dashboards and physician score cards. Without proper protection, these results may be discoverable during litigation. The Cures Act now provides such protections, and includes HIT vendors in this protected environment to work with providers to improve interoperability, quality of care, and outcomes, all while limiting exposure to litigation or professional harm.
For more information on patient safety organizations, contact Kristen Lilly or Martie Ross at (800) 270-9629.