ONC releases report to Congress on HIT progress, barriers

In its annual report on the state of HIT to Congress, the Office of the National Coordinator looks back at the progress it made in 2015 and at the barriers that still need to be overcome.

The ONC says throughout 2016, it will continue to "build the economic case for interoperability," coordinate with industry stakeholders to increase enhance consumer access to data, and to care and discourage health information blocking, among other goals.

Efforts that the agency highlights in the report made last year include broad, sweeping initiatives like the Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020 and its Interoperability Roadmap, as well as its growing role in areas like patient engagement, delivery system reform and precision medicine.  

ONC also points to steps made in the Meaningful Use program, including publishing the requirements for Stage 3 of the program.

In addition, the agency touts successes from the MU program seen last year--such as the 482,000 healthcare professionals and 4,880 hospitals and critical access hospitals that received payment for adopting or implementing MU as of December 2015.

Of the barriers ONC will seek to address in the coming years, one of the key ones it lists in the report is interoperability. The agency says it will continue to work Congress "to determine ways to advance policies and practices that support provider-focused, person-centered interoperable health information exchange that advances health information exchange and deters information blocking."

"Looking forward to 2016, we will continue to work in concert with our federal colleagues, Congress, and our private-sector partners to achieve a truly learning health system where electronic health information is available when and where it matters most," National Coordinator Karen DeSalvo, M.D., and Matthew Swain, senior strategy analyst for ONC's Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Analysis, write in a post at the Health IT Buzz blog.

ONC also recently announced a new initiative to help healthcare organizations "adapt and evolve ONC's standards and technology work processes," FierceHealthIT previously reported.

The ONC Tech Lab "will provide internal and external stakeholders with common connection points to ONC's standards and technology efforts," according to Steven Posnack, director of the agency's Office of Standards and Technology.

To learn more:
- here's the report (.pdf)
- read the blog post