The United States is continuing its slow emergence from a nation-wide shut down imposed to slow down the spread of COVID-19. Most states have started to reopen, with bars, restaurants, and many workplaces starting to fill. As people begin to spend more time together again, it is critically important that public health agencies do everything they can to help prevent further spread of the infection and continue to monitor the level of infection within the population.
On June 10, 2020 the US Senate released a white paper titled “Preparing for the Next Pandemic” under the signature of Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. The white paper has five recommendations to address future pandemics based on lessons learned from COVID-19 and the past 20 years of pandemic planning. “The five recommendations…along with a series of questions at the end of this white paper, are intended to elicit recommendations that Congress can consider and act on this year,” Alexander said in a statement, adding that “I am inviting comments, responses, and any additional recommendations for the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to consider. This feedback will be shared with my colleagues, both Democrat and Republican.” This feedback from the public will be accepted until June 26, 2020 and can be submitted to PandemicPreparedness@help.senate.gov.
On March 9, 2020 the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released its final rule on the 21st Century Cures Act: Interoperability, Information Blocking, and the ONC Health IT Certification Program. Referred to by some people as the “Information Blocking Rule,” since this is the primary topic, the document actually covers a host of other issues related to interoperability driven primarily by requirements of the 21st Century Cures Act. In addition to the final rule itself you can read the ONC press release, a comparison between the proposed and final rules, and lots of other resources. The final rule was officially be published in the Federal Register on May 1, 2020.
ONC Releases Strategy on Reducing Regulatory and Administrative Burden Relating to the Use of Health IT and EHRs
In February 2020 the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released its final report on the Strategy on Reducing Regulatory and Administrative Burden Relating to the Use of Health IT and EHRs as mandated by the 21st Century Cures Act.
The report is divided into the same four major sections as the version released for comment back in 2018 (see our previous blog), each covering a different area: clinical documentation; health IT usability and the user experience; EHR reporting; and public health reporting. For each section, the report briefly lays out the issues and challenges and provides some key strategies and recommendations.
In February 2020 the eHealth Initiative (eHI) published a new report, The State of Patient Matching in America, based on a survey of over 115 health information exchange (HIE) and provider organizations conducted by NextGate on their behalf. Over the past few years we have written numerous related blogs on the ONC PMAL Project, the GAO Report on Patient Matching, and an Update on Patient Matching Activities in the US. Patient matching is one of the areas called out by Congress in the 21st Century Cures Act for review and consideration.