What are the health policy priorities for the ONC in 2017? July 26, 2017
The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology (IT) wants to see more patient-provider interaction and wants providers to realize more benefits from their electronic health records (EHRs). The newly appointed National Coordinator, Donald Rucker, M.D., held a press conference recently to discuss the ONC’s priorities for independent physicians and health policy. Dr. Rucker expressed his empathy for very small practices, particularly in regard to reporting and documentation requirements.
EHR usability is one of the ONC’s priorities. Realizing that the administrative requirements may be excessive for independent physicians, the ONC will work toward reducing the regulations and reporting requirements that keep physicians from being able to spend more time with their patients. The Office is focused on helping providers and their patients get the most from their EHRs.
The ONC is also working with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to ease some of the reporting burdens coming from that office. They will work on reducing reporting requirements and have already issued a proposed rule that will reduce the administrative strain on independent physicians.
CMS has moved toward a value-based payment system that encourages physicians to spend more time with patients providing quality healthcare services. However, many small practices have found the reporting requirements for the new reimbursement system to be quite stringent, and they actually now have less time to spend with patients.
A second ONC priority is interoperability. Ensuring that systems can talk to each other, to provide secure and seamless data exchange between providers, is crucial to the quality of a patient’s healthcare plan. To that end, Dr. Rucker stated that the ONC should have EHR efficiency and interoperability as a focus going forward.
Interoperability is particularly important for independent physicians providing coordinated care for patients with multiple providers. EHRs that enable each provider to immediately input and then view data for a patient are much more beneficial and useful for those providers as well as their patients.