Interoperability, information sharing: ONC releases report on key focus areas

The ONC has released its annual report to Congress on health IT progress, titled "Examining the HITECH Era and the Future of Health IT."

The report focuses how the office plans to achieve an interoperable health system. Today, most hospitals and physicians use certified health IT products; 96 percent of hospitals used certified EHRs in 2015, compared to only 9 percent of hospitals in 2008. However, many of these health IT products lack the capacity for health information sharing. To address this barrier, ONC is focused on three areas:

1. "Promoting common standards to facilitate the seamless and secure exchange of data, including through the use of standardized, open application programming interfaces."

2. "Building the business case for interoperability, particularly through delivery system reform efforts that change the way the Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services (CMS) pay for care to reward quality over quantity of services."

3. "Changing the culture around access to information through: combating information blocking; ensuring that individuals know they have a right to access and transmit their health information and that providers know they must provide access to the individuals; and reminding health care providers that they are legally allowed to exchange information in the course of treatment or coordinating care."

Interoperability will streamline patient care across different care settings, which will help healthcare facilities transition to value-based care models, according to the report. ONC also believes data sharing will support national priorities, like delivery system reform, Cancer Moonshot and combating opioid misuse.

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