The ONC Commitment to Transparency

As we work to encourage the meaningful use of health information technology, we want to hear what you have to say. That’s why we started this blog and it’s why we have worked so hard to ensure our process for moving forward is open and transparent. Today, I want to address another step we’re taking to bring more Americans into the conversation about health IT.

The Recovery Act called for the creation of two new committees — the HIT Policy Committee and the HIT Standards Committee. Created in May, 2009, and operating under the Federal Advisory Committee Act rules and regulations (www.gsa.gov/faca), the meetings and deliberations are open to the public. To date seven HIT Policy Committee meetings and eight Standards Committee Meetings have been held. Each committee has heard testimony from the public.

These committees have a lot on their plate, and from the outset, we knew that in order to accomplish the scope of work set forth by each committee in a timely manner and be responsive to legislation, workgroups would need to be created. These workgroups bring together a diverse set of subject matter experts and key stakeholders to do research, deliberate and make recommendations to the committees. The workgroups don’t prepare final recommendations for the government. To date, 10 workgroups have been created and we’ve held public workgroup hearings on Certification, Electronic Exchange of Laboratory Data and Adoption.

The FACA rules allow workgroup meetings to be closed to the public and the findings from these workgroups are always reported in the full committees, but we want to do more to bring you into the conversation. Beginning January 1, we’ll implement a new policy that will open up workgroup meetings to the public unless a closed meeting is clearly in the public interest.  The decision to close a meeting will be done on a case by case basis at the written request of the workgroup chair(s) reflecting a majority vote by the membership to hold a closed hearing and a justification to do so. Our goal is to make every meeting open, but if a meeting is closed, we’ll report the findings from the meeting on our website and any findings from the meeting will also be reported to the full committee – where anyone can listen to and comment on what the workgroup has to say.

I am committed to open and transparent discussion of issues critical to achieving ONC’s goals of promoting adoption and meaningful use of health information technology. We created HealthIT BUZZ to listen to the American people and we welcome your thoughts about this new policy and the important work being done by these committees.

29 Comments

  1. Dave says:

    Thanks for the great information.. Dave

  2. Brian Ahier says:

    Thank you very much for this timely response to an important issue. I appreciate the efforts to apply government 2.0 principles and am very glad to see the commitment by the ONC to open and transparent discussion.

    There has been a herculean effort so far to move the puck, but there are still many challenges to getting into the goal. It will take a concerted and collaborative effort from all of us to achieve our common objectives. The primary one in my mind being to use health information technology to lower costs and improve quality and clinical outcomes. It is a big job…

    I want to again thank the many volunteers and staff for their hard work, and I’m confident that 2010 is going to be a great year for health IT.

    Have a very merry Christmas!

  3. farmville says:

    It’s pleasing to see ONC’s willingness to discuss such issues. I’ll be looking close at the updates that ensue regarding adoption.

  4. Thank you David,
    As a future end user of all this, it’s great to see the steps as you go along. It also brings forward the many challenges that are to be overcome. My participation in all this will be working with the many private practices here in the Tampa Bay area. Hopefully we can bring questions from our roundtable discussions with the small office doctors. The openess gives us assurance that all voices can be heard.

  5. Jeff Brandt says:

    Great,

    If we can build a good set of requirement from these discussions this would be very useful. We need domain experts to participate, Users, shareholders, HIT, Software Engineering.

    Jeff Brandt
    http://www.comsi.com

  6. Steve Witter says:

    Thank you for making the remainder of the meetings public. This will be of great benefit to all of us as we move forward with common standards and understanding necessary for interoperability. Often it is crucial to not only know the final recommendations, but also the discussions and rationale behind them.

    Will the transcripts from the closed portion of the December 16th HIT policy meeting be made public? in general will the transcripts and presentations from other previous non-public meetings be released?

  7. Joe Moore says:

    I welcome the opportunity to participate in the discussion. I hope my time is not wasted. So often government programs do not fulfill their promise and tend to do the opposite of what the original intent was.

    HIPAA is a great example. We got socked with all the cost of supporting the security and privacy rules but none of the savings that were supposed to come from standardized claims submission. That never happened and we’re left holding the bag.

    Now the government is trying to promote the use of electronic medical records. One of the things that’s supposed to do is make it easier to share information between providers. But oh wait a minute… HIPAA says we can’t do that. Or at least that’s the way many interpret it. DOH!

  8. godaddy says:

    I agree with you. My participation in all this will be working with the many private practices here in the Tampa Bay area. Hopefully we can bring questions from our roundtable discussions with the small office doctors.

  9. Safa says:

    It is a great idea to keep meetings open to public. I do however be interested to find out which meetings are closed with a hint of cynical-ism.

  10. David Young says:

    I sure hope that something useful comes of this and it’s not just more government waste, because we all know that Healthcare IT should be streamlined and alot more user friendly.

  11. Sara says:

    I will be trying to follow along with this, I hope we are finally starting to see positive change in the healthcare sysem.

  12. I think transparency will be key. We (the public) have been rattled by the likes of MRSA and swine flu (to name but a few) so there is alot of unrest with regard to the health system in general.

    Sounds like a step in the right direction for sure.

  13. Ingrid says:

    Well after all health care is for the people. I agree transparency is essential and open discussion can only help to instigate positive change that is so much needed.

  14. This discussion – and the original post – underscore the fact that the internet is fundamentally measurable and transparent.

    Dawson

  15. Gerald says:

    The internet is a wonderful thing!when everyone is able to find quality information on the topics that they are interested in and are passionate about.It is especailly great when a website like this one allows use to express our opinions freely.Great work.

  16. Brendan says:

    Thanks for allowing people to share their opinions. I enjoyed reading.

  17. John Byrne BSN, MSIS, RN-BC; CHISP; Senior Integration Engineer says:

    The need to educate and promote a HIT workforce seems long overdue. Working everyday in large HIT implementations helps one to see this need clearly. I’m curious about the timelines for the HIT training programs. I have seen dates for colleges to begin these HIT training programs as early as Sept 2010 in order to meet the Fed’s grant deadlines. I would think think colleges would already be gearing up to hit these dates. Has anyone seen a place on the web were colleges are seen gearing up to cover their staffing needs for these new HIT training programs? Perhaps the resources page on this website is a good place for this kind of information. I ran some searches, but not yet seeing a great deal to indicate colleges are staffing up for these new HIT training programs.

    Thanks, John

  18. The need to educate and promote a HIT workforce seems long overdue. Working everyday in large HIT implementations helps one to see this need clearly. I’m curious about the timelines for the HIT training programs. I have seen dates for colleges to begin these HIT training programs as early as Sept 2010 in order to meet the Fed’s grant deadlines. I would think think colleges would already be gearing up to hit these dates. Has anyone seen a place on the web were colleges are seen gearing up to cover their staffing needs for these new HIT training programs? Perhaps the resources page on this website is a good place for this kind of information. I ran some searches, but not yet seeing a great deal to indicate colleges are staffing up for these new HIT training programs.

    Thanks, John

  19. Hostgator says:

    These days, the government is trying to promote the use of electronic medical records. One of the things that’s supposed to do is make it easier to share information between providers.

    Thanks…

  20. Sean Dean says:

    I do however be interested to find out which meetings are closed with a hint of cynical-ism.

  21. If we can build a good set of requirement from these discussions this would be very useful. We need domain experts to participate, Users, shareholders, HIT, Software Engineering.

  22. I hope we’ll make it. Thanks for the data.

  23. Yes, please keep the meetings open and publish what comes out of the closed meetings. All this ‘behind closed doors’ information needs to be shared.

  24. Mark J says:

    Transparency is key.
    I hope that all the effort (and money invested) won’t go to waste.

    Thanx for the great post!

  25. It is a great idea to keep meetings open to public. it’s great to see the steps as you go along.

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