The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Health IT Playbook


Introduction to the Health IT Playbook

With the nationwide focus on value and quality in healthcare and incentives for healthcare providers to transform their practices and care delivery, most acknowledge that investing in health information technology (health IT) is an imperative. For many, the question of how to get health IT to work efficiently and effectively in practice remains a challenge. There are a number of strategies, recommendations and best practices based upon implementation experience from a variety of clinical settings.

Making these available as a digital information resource that providers can easily navigate for answers is one way to address this question and ease the burden of implementing and using health IT. The Health IT Playbook provides actionable steps for addressing many of these challenges and offers healthcare providers guidance on how to implement and use health IT to advance care information and delivery. The playbook also includes the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Report’s glossary to help establish a common language for stakeholders.

The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) developed this 1st edition of the Health IT Playbook to answer many of the questions that providers ask when implementing and using health IT. Derived from extensive research, previously developed as well as newly created tools, this playbook provides content that addresses these questions and more:

  • How do I choose, implement, or upgrade an electronic health record (EHR) system?
  • How do I redesign workflows to improve and optimize practice efficiency and effectiveness?
  • How can I connect and share information with other providers and public health officials?
  • How can I activate and engage patients and their families?
  • How do I learn more about improving patient outcomes and prepare for new quality payment programs?
  • How do I protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of personal health information in my EHR system?

Future updates and releases of the Health IT Playbook will address user feedback and health IT market evolution, support ONC’s Strategic Plan (Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020), and achieve goals of the Interoperability Roadmap (Connecting Health and Care for the Nation: A Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap).

About this version: Release 2.0

Since the launch of the Playbook in September 2016, ONC has continued to work with internal and external partners to identify relevant, timely, and actionable tools and content.

Based on this collaboration, industry priorities, and direct feedback from early users, we’ve developed new features and materials for this release.

Version 2.0 of this Playbook includes:

  • A new Guide to Using the Playbook section, to help users find the information most useful to them
  • New tools and resources on a variety of health IT topics, like the Quality Payment Program, workforce training, and registrar and standards
  • An enhanced user experience, including improved performance on all devices

As this is still an early edition of the Playbook, we fully expect users to continue assessing its value and offering suggestions for improvement. It should be noted that a number of tools and resources are adapted from ONC’s Regional Extension Center (REC) program, which funded 62 RECs to provide technical assistance and information on best practices to accelerate use of EHR technology in support of the CMS EHR Incentive Program (Meaningful Use). In addition to tools adapted from the REC program, additional content was added from ONC’s prior Beacon Community program, which funded 17 selected communities throughout the United States that have already made inroads in the development of secure, private, and accurate systems of EHR adoption and health information exchange.

Users of this Playbook will also find a significant number of tools that reference the CMS EHR Incentive Program (Meaningful Use) Stage 1 and Stage 2. While much of this content is still very much relevant, future updates and releases of the Playbook will continue to adapt existing MU-based tools and provide tools to support new alternative payment models (APMs) and value-based care. The Playbook includes multiple places for users to submit feedback and suggestions based on their experience with the site. In response, we will regularly update the Playbook to include additional content, improve upon current content, and showcase examples of use and learning.


References or links in this website to any specific non-federal entity, commercial product, process, service or company do not constitute their endorsement or recommendation by the U.S. Government or HHS. HHS is not responsible for the contents of any “off-site” website linked to in this website, nor is HHS responsible for such other website’s compliance with Section 508 (accessibility).

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Content last updated on: January 23, 2017