Federal Government Agency Announcements at HIMSS16

March 11, 2016

HIMSS16 was a busy week for federal government agencies and provided a platform for a number of major announcements that will serve to advance better care through Health IT. The following are some highlights of those announcements.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) announced new Challenges to spur innovation for market-ready, user-friendly health technology apps for consumers and providers. The challenge is part of a three-part strategy designed to foster private sector innovation to help make health information available in user-friendly formats to enable consumers and providers to access and share health information. The Consumer Health Data Aggregator Challenge will focus on helping consumers get and use their health information, the Provider User-Experience Challenge will improve user-experience and utility for providers, and a grant opportunity will focus on coordinating open information about EHR App Solutions.

ONC also announced a new proposed rule entitled “ONC Health IT Certification Program: Enhanced Oversight and Accountability.” The new rule would further enhance the safety, reliability, transparency, and accountability of certified health IT for users focusing on three key areas: direct review; enhanced oversight; and greater transparency and accountability.  Comments on the proposed rule will be accepted through May 2, 2016.

Additionally, ONC stated its efforts to update the Model Privacy Notice (MPN) published by ONC in 2011.  The MPN is a voluntary, openly available resource designed to help developers provide transparent notice to consumers about what happens to their data. ONC is seeking comments on the scope and content on the MPN to better align with the current consumer health technology landscape. Public comments will be accepted through April 14, 2016.

In conjunction with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), ONC also recently released new fact sheets explaining how HIPAA supports interoperable exchange between providers for treatment and health care operations. Please see the following ONC blog post links for more information:

The White House issued a draft of its Data Security Policy Principles and Framework for the Precision Medicine Initiative for comment. The document is meant to help guide decision-making by organizations conducting or participating in precision medicine activities and provides a framework for protecting participants’ data and resources in an appropriate and ethical manner. The White House invites public comment on the draft Framework through March 25, 2016.

CMS released an extension to the Medicare EHR Incentive Program hardship application deadline for all providers in an effort to ensure that providers have sufficient time to submit their applications to avoid payment adjustments in 2017.  The new deadline for Eligible Professionals, Eligible Hospitals and Critical Access Hospitals is July 1, 2016 and new applications and instructions can be found here for providers seeking a hardship exemption.

Posted Under: Policy Center, Government Agency