Achieving a Major Milestone: Health IT Developers Certify to Cures Update

Robert Anthony | February 10, 2023

ONC is delighted to report that on December 31, 2022, the health IT community passed a major milestone on the road to improving health IT interoperability. More than 95 percent of Certified Health IT developers met the compliance deadline to update and provide their customers with new technology including requirements to enable access to information through application programming interfaces (APIs) “without special effort.”

ONC’s Cures Act Final Rule mandated many changes in the Certification Program, including four new updates that will have long-lasting impact for patients, clinicians, and Certified Health IT Developers that:

  • Advance interoperability for patients and providers through the use of secure FHIR-based APIs;
  • Enable patients, providers, and other stakeholders to have access to consistent data elements represented in at least version 1 of the United States Core Data for Interoperability (USCDI);
  • Improve the reliability and completeness of electronic prescribing; and
  • Provide stakeholders transparency regarding how Certified Health IT Developers test their technology in real-world settings through Real World Testing plans.

These new criteria make it easier for patients to access their own health IT record from mobile devices, allow electronic health information to flow more freely between health IT systems, and provide enhanced privacy and security for health IT.

As we look back on 2022, there is cause for celebration and acknowledgment of the work accomplished across the industry (and especially by health IT software developers) since the Cures Act Final Rule published.

At the end of the first quarter of 2022, only 119 listings on the Certified Health IT Product List (CHPL) updated to 2015 Cures Update requirements, leaving 658 active listings needing to make updates by the December 2022 deadline. Now that the deadline has passed, 646 product listings from 411 developers are certified to the 2015 Edition Cures Update.

Electronic access to health information is the cornerstone of modern healthcare and APIs are what help make this possible. It is encouraging for the future of interoperability to see the advancements in Certified Health IT through API products and capabilities. In early 2022, the CHPL listed five Health IT Products certified to § 170.315(g)(10) Standardized API for patient and population services. There are now 253 products that offer this functionality and as the number grows, the industry’s potential to innovate and use information to deliver value in health care has never been greater.

As part of a new dynamic for the Certification Program finalized in the Cures Act Final Rule, our requirements for standardized APIs included a provision to update certified API technology previously certified to § 170.315(g)(8) to FHIR®-based APIs in 170.315(g)(10) as well as provide that updated certified API technology to customers by December 31, 2022. These provisions are intended to ensure that providers participating in certain CMS payment programs, such as the Merit-based Incentive Payment System, are able to successfully deploy and use FHIR-based APIs by September 30, 2023.

Now that the compliance deadline has passed, we will turn to monitoring adoption and conformance in deployed systems through Lantern, while actively engaging with the health IT industry to ensure that the nation’s 5,000 hospitals and 500,000+ clinicians with Cures Update technology can leverage FHIR-based APIs. We’ll provide updates across 2023 on Lantern and ongoing compliance with Cures Act Final Rule requirements.

ONC commends and recognizes the effort it took by Certified Health IT Developers to meet the Cures Update in 2022. Health IT interoperability has taken a major step forward and these numbers are cause for optimism in 2023 and beyond!