Health IT Policy and Standards Committees Discuss Task Force Recommendations and ONC Updates

On Wednesday, July 27, 2016, the Health IT Policy Committee and Standards Committee, Federal Advisory Committees to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), convened for a virtual joint meeting. Paul Tang, Health IT Policy Committee co-chair, first provided a review of the agenda which included Health IT Standards Committee (HITSC) 2017 Interoperability Standards Advisory (ISA)Task Force final recommendations, ONC updates from the Office of the Chief Privacy Officer, and an ONC data update on interoperability among U.S. non-federal acute care hospitals.


Richard Elmore and Kim Nolen, co-chairs of the HITSC 2017 ISA Task Force gave a presentation on Task Force final recommendations. The Task Force was charged to submit recommendations to the Health IT Standards Committee regarding revisions and enhancements ONC should consider as it creates the Draft 2017 ISA, taking into account feedback from the public comment process. Recommendations were made in the areas of ISA scope, structure, vocabulary and terminology standards, research, patient matching, and APIs.

Lucia Savage, Chief Privacy Officer, ONC, gave a briefing of a new ONC report entitled: Oversight of the Privacy & Security Health Data Collected by Entities Not Regulated by HIPAA, released on July 19, 2016. The report demonstrates continued gaps in policies around access, security, and privacy. In addition, and as a result of these gaps, confusion persists between HIPAA regulated entities and those not regulated by HIPAA among both consumers and innovators. The report also identifies the lack of clear guidance around consumer access to, and privacy and security of, health information collected, shared, and used by non-covered entities (NCEs). 

Savage also provided a cyber-security update on efforts to improve cyber threat sharing in the health and public health sector to include an ONC published funding opportunity for help to improve cyber information sharing and an Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) published funding opportunity for a Sector Information Sharing and Analysis Organization (ISAO). Additionally, the Health Care Industry Cyber Task Force will hold its next meeting in October, 2016.

Finally, Vaishali Patel, Senior Advisor, ONC, gave a data update on Interoperability Among U.S. Non-federal Acute Care Hospitals. The report sought to answer how interoperability varies across hospitals, who are hospitals’ exchange partners, and how hospitals exchange data. The report found that nationwide, the percent of hospitals electronically sending, receiving, and finding key clinical information grew significantly between 2014 and 2015; however, small hospitals, rural hospitals, and critical access hospitals (CAHs) had lower rates of sending, receiving, finding, and integrating information. Hospital rates of exchanging data were lower with behavioral health and long term care providers. There was a significant decrease in exclusively using non-electronic means of exchange with hospitals transitioning to using mix of paper-based and electronic means of exchange and a majority of hospitals (6 out of 10 nationwide) used both HIOs and HIE vendors to enable electronic exchange of information.

The next Joint Committee meeting will be a virtual meeting on September 13, 2016