ONC Transparency Efforts Help FPs Make Informed EHR Selections

June 10, 2016 10:15 am News Staff

Shopping for an electronic health record (EHR) or other health information technology should be getting a little easier -- or at least a bit more transparent.


So says the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health IT.

On June 1, the ONC announced that it had begun listing more detailed and physician-friendly information about certified health IT products.

Thanks to a revamped website(www.healthit.gov), family physicians and others shopping for such technology can see information not only about costs but also about glitches they might run into when implementing and using a particular product.

A list of certified health IT products(www.healthit.gov) will be posted there, and visitors are encouraged to browse frequently asked questions(www.healthit.gov) about the certification program.

According to a June 1 ONC press release(www.hhs.gov), the improvements were required by the 2015 Edition Health Information Technology Certification Criteria final rule(www.federalregister.gov)

"These new efforts to provide more and easier-to-understand information are critical to helping clinicians find the right tools to provide better care and improve the health of their patients," said National Coordinator Karen DeSalvo, M.D., M.P.H.

"This information and our new websites will make the process of comparing and buying certified health IT simpler and better, discourage information blocking and create clear incentives for developers to focus on the quality and usability of their products," she added.

According to the ONC, certified health IT developers also are now required to publish on their websites and in marketing materials disclosure statements that must include limitations and costs that could be incurred by the user.

Furthermore, says the ONC, the 2015 edition final rule makes it clear that health IT developers must attest that they will -- or won't -- voluntarily take further action to support transparency.

The AAFP's top technology expert welcomed the news.

Steven Waldren, M.D., director of the AAFP's Alliance for eHealth Innovation, told AAFP News he was encouraged to see that the ONC was finally addressing transparency issues with vendors. "We hope this is the first step of many ONC takes to make it easier for family physicians to come to the right decision when they invest in health IT products," said Waldren.

A June 1 posting on the agency's Health IT Buzz blog(www.healthit.gov) also discusses the new transparency requirements.

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