A New Tool to Help Health Care Providers Get the Most Out of their Health IT

Thomas A. Mason and Lauren Richie | September 26, 2016

Today, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is releasing the Health IT Playbook to help make using health information technology (health IT) easier for providers so they can get the most out of their technology investment. The Playbook is a dynamic, web-based resource that builds on and updates the Patient Engagement Playbook for Providers, which was released earlier this year. It is a mixture of key “plays” that combines practical, technical, and workflow assistance through a variety of tools and resources that should prove helpful to providers and practice staff.

Since ONC was established in 2004, we have been working to provide tools and information to help health care providers adopt health IT and share electronic health information. While we have made tremendous progress in the adoption of health IT across the country, we recognize that providers continue to face health IT challenges, particularly solo, small, and medium-sized practices. In short, navigating electronic health record (EHR) systems and figuring out what tools and functionalities are relevant and helpful to a particular practice or situation can be difficult.

With these challenges in mind, we designed the Playbook to be intuitive and user-friendly so that providers can easily access key information, such as the new EHR contract guide for preparing to negotiate a new acquisition, an interactive map that can point providers to possible federal support and funding, or ONC and the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR)’s recently updated Security Risk Assessment (SRA) Tool to help providers comply with the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Security Rule. Other topics covered in the Playbook include the ONC Health IT Certification Program, health information exchange, alternative payment models, and using health IT in rural settings.

To help small practices apply these resources, the Playbook also includes success stories from leading practices about researching, buying, using, or switching health IT tools, including optimizing and tailoring them to specific practices or workflows. We hope that these resources will help these and other practices resolve key issues and health IT implementation and use challenges.

Because we know that the journey of health IT can be complex and at times overwhelming, we designed the new Playbook to be accessible to even the busiest providers. Much of the design of the new Playbook is based on feedback and input gathered from practicing physicians, professional medical societies, federal partners and recommendations made by the Consumer Task Force of the Health IT Policy and Standards Committees.

And the best feature of the Playbook is that it is not intended to be a static resource; just as we hope you utilize the Playbook over and over again, we plan to frequently revise, update, and expand it. Your input and feedback on the Patient Engagement Playbook is reflected in the new Health IT Playbook and we want to continue that dialogue with your comments and feedback. You can share your feedback by e-mailing HITPlaybook@hhs.gov.

As part of National Health IT Week, ONC will be hosting a public webinar to demo the Health IT Playbook at 2:00 p.m. Friday, September 30, 2016. Register here.