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 is 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.
In December 2019 the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released a draft 2020-2025 Federal Health IT Strategic Plan and invited public comment. The plan is intended not only to provide a roadmap to Federal agencies but also to “…provide signals to the private sector on the direction of the federal government, which may guide coordination and investment decisions” and serve as a “catalyst for activities” (p. 21)
We have spent years involved with the management of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentive Programs which were created by the HITECH Act (2009). These programs were recently renamed Promoting Interoperability (PI) programs. In a nutshell, these programs were tied to the Medicare and Medicaid insurance programs and provided financial incentives over a number of years to ambulatory providers and hospitals to adopt and use EHRs. Vendors submitted their technology products for testing and certification that they performed specific functions and could exchange data using specified message formats.