- ONC will work with CMS to develop a strategy to reduce administrative burden on providers as part of a larger plan to implement provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act over the next few years, according to National Coordinator for Health IT Don Rucker, MD.
The federal agency will release the draft strategy to reduce provider burden this fall, Rucker announced in the Health IT Buzz blog post. He also outlined ways ONC plans to improve interoperability and carry out the aims of the Cures Act.
Stakeholders are encouraged to provide feedback about the draft strategy during a public comment period immediately following the draft’s release.
In addition to the coming strategy to reduce provider burden, ONC also plans to issue a Request for Information (RFI) soliciting stakeholder input about reporting criteria for an EHR Reporting Program.
The EHR Reporting Program is required by Cures to provide publicly available, comparative information about ONC certified health IT products. Organizations including Pew Charitable Trusts and AMIA have advocated for the program as a way to provide greater transparency to clinicians and hospitals making EHR technology purchasing decisions.
ONC will also issue a notice of proposed rulemaking to update the ONC Health IT Certification Program and implement other provisions of the Cures Act.
“To achieve these goals, we need all stakeholders to get involved and provide input during our public comment periods,” wrote Rucker.
Rucker cited the Trump Administration’s MyHealthEData Initiative as a driving force motivating this push to implement provisions of the Cures Act.
MyHealthEData is meant to improve EHR patient access by breaking down existing barriers to health data exchange and interoperability. The government-wide initiative is part of an effort to allow for a more patient-centric healthcare system in which patients are more in control of their own health information.
For its part, ONC will engage in rulemaking to improve patient, clinician, and payer access to clinical data by advancing proposals related to application programming interfaces (APIs).
“Rulemaking will also identify behaviors not considered information blocking which will assist the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) in their enforcement of Cures Act’s provisions that prohibit information blocking,” noted Rucker.
ONC plans to further improve interoperability by advancing the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA) released in January 2018. TEFCA is designed to improve health data exchange standardization and enable a network-of-networks across the industry.
“The final Trusted Exchange Framework will set common principles, terms, and conditions that facilitate trust between disparate health information networks,” said Rucker.
Health information exchanges (HIE) leadership at CORHIO, IHIE, and CliniSync largely agree the aims of TEFCA are worthwhile and necessary to advance healthcare interoperability. However, stakeholders also expressed concern the framework may be too ambitious.
“It will seek to scale interoperability nationwide and enable participating networks to work together to provide an on-ramp to electronic health information regardless of what health IT developer a provider uses, health information exchange or network a provider contracts with, or how far across the country the patients’ medical records are located,” Rucker stated.
Along with TEFCA, forthcoming regulations about information blocking will help to improve data liquidity. ONC plans to release a rule containing information about which practices do not constitute information blocking in September.
The federal agency has met with patients, patient advocate groups, providers, health IT developers, and other stakeholders to gain insight into information blocking and its day-to-day impact.
“These collective steps to promote interoperability will help make sure that patients can get their data where and when they need it and in the most usable format,” stated Rucker.