Friday, January 4, 2019

Congress Questions ONC on Implementing 21st Century Cures Act

On Tuesday, December 11, the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health held a hearing capping off its oversight of 21st Cures implementation for the outgoing 115th Congress by focusing on the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). The witness was Donald Rucker MD, the National Coordinator for Health IT.

Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) said in his opening statement: "The fundamental value proposition of Electronic Health Record systems is the continuity of evidence-based care, however, patient health data continue to be fragmented and difficult to access for health care providers and patients themselves. The functionality of EHR systems lags behind the technological capabilities presently available, and until we close that gap I do not see how we can truly recognize the potential of clinical registries, payment reform, or health information exchanges."

Committee members had the opportunity to learn more about health information technology policies (HIT) and the work ONC has done in implementing Cures HIT provisions. Member questioning largely focused on health data privacy and security, physician burden, and patient access to their health data. Dr. Rucker was unable to provide members with any specifics on the information blocking rule currently under review at the Office of Management and Budget. Now with the partial government shutdown still under way at the time of this writing, I don't expect it will see the light of day in the near future.

Dr. Rucker's testimony and some Q&A is below:

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