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.
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.