Report to Congress on Health IT Progress

Today, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) issued its annual report to Congress on health IT progress. 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.

As a nation, we have decisively moved from a paper to a digital health care system. A huge amount of electronic health data now exists that simply was not available six years ago. This 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.

Within the federal family, more than 35 federal agencies and offices collaborated to develop the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020, which outlines federal commitments to expedite high-quality, accurate, secure, and relevant electronic health information for stakeholders across the nation. To help realize this vision, ONC collaborated with the private sector to develop Connecting Health and Care: A Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap, which lays out the milestones, calls to action and commitments that public and private stakeholders should focus on achieving, particularly in the near-term.

In 2015, ONC initiated critical actions to accelerate these goals, such as the Interoperability Standards Advisory (ISA)—a single resource for those looking for federally recognized, national interoperability standards and guidance—and the 2015 Edition Final Rule, which adopts standards and certification criteria designed to foster innovation, including through the use of application programming interfaces (APIs) and new transparency and accountability provisions. ONC also collaborated with its private-sector partners to advance health IT policy and innovation to achieve the goals of precision medicine and delivery system reform—better care, smarter spending, and healthier people.

This report also identifies key barriers to the free and secure flow of electronic health information, building on the Report to Congress on 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.

Looking forward to 2016, we will continue to work in concert with our federal colleagues, Congress, and our private-sector partners to achieve a truly learning health system where electronic health information is available when and where it matters most.

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