HLN’s Noam Arzt and Michael Suralik attended the tenth ONC Annual Meeting held on January 27-28 in Washington, DC. More than 1,200 individuals attended in person supplemented by remote attendees for the plenary sessions. Throughout the two-day event, ONC provided interesting speakers, engaging panels on a variety of topics, and ample time to network with colleagues and friends.
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.
In November 2019 the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a new report, Top Management and Performance Challenges Facing HHS. Divided into six major sections, this report reviews the OIG’s observations with respect to financial integrity of HHS programs, value and quality, protecting the health and safety of beneficiaries as well as the public at large, harnessing data to achieve these goals, and working across government.
The Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) released its 2019 edition of what it hopes will be an annual report, Ready or Not: Protecting the Public’s Health from Diseases, Disasters and Bioterrorism last February. The ground-breaking report warns about key global challenges ahead, like the risk of a flu pandemic; the impact of weather pattern changes due to climate change; the dangers of antimicrobial resistance, and others, and tries to offer advice on how to prepare for them.
In Section 1 of the report, titled Health Threats: A Review of 2018, the authors review a litany of disease outbreaks, and severe weather and natural disaster events. They note the incidents, actions, and corresponding research findings, meetings, and events related to each. On the policy front, they note the September 2018 release by the White House of its National Biodefense Strategy (see earlier article on this topic). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released another report, Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Capabilities, in October 2018 (updated in January 2019). This section of the TFAH report also reviews the various activities of the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense.