It’s been a busy week for ONC at HIMSS16 sharing information about our work and meeting with stakeholders to further opportunities for the public and private sectors to work together to advance better care, spend health care dollars more wisely, leading to a healthier nation. Together, we can achieve this vision by unlocking health care data and information so that providers are better informed and patients and families can access their healthcare information, making them empowered, active participants in their own care. The following are highlights of ONC announced activities to help us get there.
Recap of ONC Announcements at HIMSS16
- HHS announces major commitments from healthcare industry to make electronic health records work better for patients and providers
- ONC Launches New Challenges to Spur Innovation for Market-Ready, User-Friendly Health Technology Apps for Consumers and Providers
- ONC Introduced the Tech Lab As The Next Chapter for Standards and Technology
- HHS Announces Proposed Rule to Support the Reliability, Transparency, Accountability, and Safety of Certified Health IT
- Keeping Consumers in the Know: Help Us Update the Model Privacy Notice
- ONC Releases New Resources to Better Explain How HIPAA Supports Interoperability
- ONC Report to Congress on Health IT Progress
HHS announces major commitments from healthcare industry to make electronic health records work better for patients and providers
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced that companies that provide 90 percent of electronic health records used by U.S. hospitals, the nation’s five largest private healthcare systems, and more than a dozen leading professional associations and stakeholder groups have pledged to implement three core commitments that will improve the flow of health information to consumers and healthcare providers.
- Consumer Access: To help consumers easily and securely access their electronic health information, direct it to any desired location, learn how their information can be shared and used, and be assured that this information will be effectively and safely used to benefit their health and that of their community.
- No Information Blocking: To help providers share individuals’ health information for care with other providers and their patients whenever permitted by law, and not block electronic health information (defined as knowingly and unreasonably interfering with information sharing).
- Standards: Implement federally recognized, national interoperability standards, policies, guidance, and practices for electronic health information, and adopt best practices including those related to privacy and security.
ONC Launches New Challenges to Spur Innovation for Market-Ready, User-Friendly Health Technology Apps for Consumers and Providers
ONC announced a three-part strategy to spur the development of market-ready, user-friendly software applications (apps) for consumers and health care providers. This new strategy is designed to foster private sector innovation to help make health information available in user-friendly formats to enable consumers and providers to easily and securely access and share electronic health information.
- Help Consumers Get and Use their Health Information $175,000. In this first challenge contest, prizes will be awarded to consumer-facing apps that use open, standardized APIs to help consumers aggregate their health information in one place that is under their control. Prizes will total up to $175,000.
- Improve User-Experience (UX) and Utility for Providers $175,000. In this second challenge contest, prizes will be awarded to apps that use open, standardized APIs to positively impact providers’ experience with EHRs by making clinical workflows more intuitive, specific to clinical specialty, and actionable. Prizes will total up to $175,000.
- Coordinate Open Information About EHR App Solutions $275,000. This third coordinated action aims to help providers choose the technology that best fits their needs and workflow. ONC has published a $275,000 funding opportunity announcement that will support the development of an app discovery site that makes it easier for developers to publish their apps and for providers to discover and compare them.
The App Challenges announced by ONC are part of the Innovation stream of the recently introduced “ONC Tech Lab.” The ONC Tech Lab represents the way in which ONC will organize and approach the type of work we do. It stands for the core values that ONC will execute toward day in and day out. In concert with the ONC Health IT Certification Program, we believe this principled approach will provide internal and external stakeholders with common connection points to ONC’s standards and technology efforts. This transition lays the operational groundwork within ONC necessary to implement the Interoperability Roadmap and ties directly to our near-term health IT strategy and, ultimately, the long-term vision included in the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan.
- Blog Posting 1 of 5: TechLab Overview
- Blog Posting 2 of 5: Pilots - Interoperability Proving Ground
- Blog Posting 3 of 5: Innovation Challenge
HHS Announces Proposed Rule to Support the Reliability, Transparency, Accountability, and Safety of Certified Health IT
ONC proposed a new rule that would further enhance the safety, reliability, transparency, and accountability of certified health IT for users. The “ONC Health IT Certification Program: Enhanced Oversight and Accountability” proposed rulemaking would modify the ONC Health IT Certification Program to reflect the widespread adoption of certified electronic health records and the rapid pace of innovation in the health IT market. The three focus areas are:
- Direct Review: Enabling ONC to directly review certified health IT products, including certified electronic health records systems (EHRs), and take necessary action to address circumstances such as potential risks to public health and safety. This will complement existing ONC-Authorized Certification Bodies (ONC-ACBs) responsibilities.
- Enhanced Oversight: Increasing ONC oversight of health IT testing bodies to align with ONC’s existing oversight of ONC-ACBs and provide the means for ONC to quickly, directly, and precisely address testing issues.
- Greater Transparency and Accountability: Making identifiable surveillance results of certified health IT publicly available to provide customers and users with valuable information about the overall performance of certified health IT, including illuminating good performance and continued compliance.
The comment period for the proposed rule ends on May 2, 2016.
ONC announced it is seeking comments on the scope and content of the voluntary Personal Health Record Model Privacy Notice (MPN) developed by ONC and published in 2011. In response to stakeholder requests for an electronic means to inform consumers about how health technology products store, use, and share health information (especially products of health technology developers not covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, Pub. L. 104-191), we have initiated a process to update the MPN to better align with the current consumer health technology landscape.
Public comments will be accepted through April 14, 2016.
ONC, in conjunction with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), recently released new fact sheets, which explain how HIPAA supports interoperable exchange between providers for treatment, as well as for health care operations. The new information extends the practical information found in Version 2.0 of ONC’s “Guide to Privacy and Security of Electronic Health Information” (published on the eve of HIMSS 2015)
- Blog Posting 1 of 4: The Real HIPAA Supports Interoperability
- Blog Posting 2 of 4: The Real HIPAA: Permitted Uses and Disclosures
- Blog Posting 3 of 4: The Real HIPAA: Care Coordination, Care Planning and Case Management Examples
- Blog Posting 4 of 4: The Real HIPAA: Quality Assessment/Quality Improvement and Population-Based Activities Exmaples
Permitted Uses Fact Sheets
- Permitted Uses and Disclosures: Exchange for Health Care Operation [PDF – 1.3 MB]
- Permitted Uses and Disclosures: Exchange for Treatment [PDF – 1.1 MB]
ONC issued its annual report to Congress on health IT progress. This annual report to Congress discusses critical actions to accelerate progress on a firm path to a digital health care system, and identifies key barriers. HHS recently released the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan (Strategic Plan) andConnecting Health and Care for the Nation: A Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap version 1.0 (Interoperability Roadmap) describing what needs to be achieved, by whom, and by when in order to reach an open and connected community of health IT.