ONC's HIT progress report cites key actions, ongoing barriers

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The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has issued its annual report to Congress on health IT progress which details “critical actions to accelerate progress on a firm path to a digital healthcare system, and identifies key barriers.”

“Developing this report provided us with an opportunity to reflect on our collective health IT journey and the significance of the past year for HHS and our federal and private partners,” wrote National Coordinator Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSC, and Matthew Swain, senior strategy analyst in the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Analysis, in a blog post.

The increasing amount of electronic health data has “created exciting opportunities for a future where health information is available when and where it matters most to improve individual and community health and well-being,” they wrote.

The authors cited the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan and the Interoperability Roadmap, the Interoperability Standards Advisory and the 2015 Edition Final Rule as the most notable efforts made in the drive to a digital healthcare system.

Among the barriers to “the free and secure flow of electronic health information,” are health information blocking, and improving the safety and usability of health IT.

“We and our federal partners are using all of the available tools in our toolbox to advance data liquidity, safety, and usability, including convening federal and private partners to expand consumer access, combat information blocking, and implement federally recognized, national interoperability standards,” according to the blog.

This annual report to Congress is required under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.