ONC’s 2014 Budget Proposal
The FY 2014 Budget for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is $78 million, $17 million above FY 2012. The Budget builds upon the investment of health information technology (IT) resources authorized in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act (as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009). It also strengthens ONC’s expertise on activities related to ONC’s core mission including adoption and meaningful use; policy development; standards development; certification; information exchange and interoperability.
With the end of Recovery Act funding in FY 2013 (in an amendment to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act), the FY 2014 Budget allows ONC to leverage critical investments to further accelerate the nationwide implementation and meaningful use of health IT. ONC will continue to develop and coordinate policies and standards that advance the goals of health IT while protecting the privacy and security of health information. ONC will also provide continued leadership and expertise to implementers and consumers of health IT as they adopt and seek to realize the benefits of health IT and health information exchange (HIE). As health IT advances, the health IT community will look to ONC for leadership on a wide range of issues and challenges. To meet this demand, the FY 2014 Budget strengthens ONC’s core standards development capacity and its Health IT Certification Program.
Standards, Interoperability, and Certification
ONC leads a variety of efforts designed to accelerate progress towards the interoperability of health IT systems. ONC engages health care, technology, and standards stakeholders to accelerate industry consensus on the standardization of health data and HIE and establish core standards and policies that enable the electronic exchange and meaningful use of health information. ONC supports these efforts by convening federal agencies and other partners to implement nationwide solutions to HIE and providing technical assistance and resources to states and communities who have committed to developing interoperable health IT infrastructures that support national priorities. ONC also administers a reliable Health IT Certification Program that builds trust in the health IT marketplace and encourages the development and adoption of standards-based technologies that support national priorities, including meaningful use.
Adoption, Utilization, and Meaningful Use of Health IT
As the number of providers using EHRs increase, there is an ongoing need to provide technical assistance in support of meaningful use. In 2012, ONC supported over 140,000 providers through the Regional Extension Center program, of which over 100,000 providers were live on an EHR system, capable of e-prescribing and producing quality measures, and almost 34,000 providers have demonstrated meaningful use.
The FY 2014 Budget will allow ONC to provide ongoing leadership and implementation assistance in support of meaningful use. ONC will continue to enhance the National Learning Consortium (NLC) where adopters and implementers can share knowledge and address barriers. Through the NLC, ONC will publish tools and resources developed under its HITECH Act programs, including health IT workforce curricula, training materials, and workflow and implementation guides.
ONC remains committed to increasing consumers’ access to and engagement with their electronic health information. ONC continues to promote the “Blue Button” program and related technologies that allow consumers to download their health information securely and privately. ONC will continue to convene stakeholders and develop strategies to increase consumer adoption and utilization of health IT.
Governance of Health Information Exchange
As providers and patients increasingly engage and seek benefit from interoperable health IT, governance and oversight entities will have a critical role in establishing policies and business practices that allow information to follow patients whenever and wherever they seek care. ONC is committed to advancing the governance goals of nationwide HIE through leadership, guidance, engagement, and monitoring. In FY 2014, ONC will work with governance and oversight entities to develop and promote policies and practices that support robust, secure, and interoperable exchange.
Patient Safety and Health IT Usability
Patient safety and usability continue to be a focus for ONC. Working with federal partners AHRQ and FDA, ONC will create the foundation for a patient safety program that will be launched in FY 2014 called “The Patient Safety Plan”. The Plan seeks to ensure that health IT is safely designed and implemented, medical staff are properly informed and trained to use their health IT systems, and a surveillance system is established to monitor health IT related patient safety events and ensure that unsafe conditions are corrected.
Privacy and Security
The Budget will enable ONC to address new privacy and security policy issues. ONC will continue to work alongside industry partners to construct and support innovative frameworks in support of a national Cybersecurity program. Recognizing that privacy and security are critical factors in moving health IT forward, ONC provides policy guidance to internal and external stakeholders to promote confidence and trust in health IT. ONC also explores privacy and security issues arising from new technologies and increased participation in HIE.