ONC Playbook aims to help practices navigate changing HIT landscape


The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has launched an online tool designed to help small and medium-sized practices implement their health information technology efficiently.

Thomas Mason, M.D., ONC's chief medical officer, told MedPage Today the idea for the Health IT Playbook came about as the agency aggregated and reviewed content from some of the tools it previously implemented to help doctors cope with electronic health records (EHRs) and other IT resources. “We thought it would be great to put this together in a way that was user-friendly and intuitive,” he said. The tool’s design makes it possible for a practice administrator to read it end-to-end if they have the time to do so, but also allows physicians to drill down to specific subtopics as needed.

IT issues have taken on greater relevance for small practices as value-based reimbursement gains steam, per FiercePracticeManagement’s previous reporting. While EHRs have historically been a point of frustration for practices, their potential link to better patient outcomes makes them a key strategic element as small practices look to navigate the emerging requirements around the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act. Frank Opelka, medical director for quality and health policy at the American College of Surgeons, called the playbook “a superb navigational tool for assisting surgeons" with MACRA looming.

Other key areas covered by the tool include:

  • An updated section on patient engagement to assist practices designing or upgrading their patient portals.
  • A glossary covering key health IT terminology.
  • A section on privacy and security covering best practices for handling healthcare information.
  • Resources for locating federally funded technical assistance.

Additionally, sections dealing with EHRs and certified health IT describe best practices for building on physicians’ existing systems, as well as for exchanging health information with payers or other practices.