The $87 million push to HHS that could make or break our public health data system

“Since its inception in 2004, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has delivered outsized results for its size. This subdivision of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has a budget of around $60 million and a team of approximately 150 people — small by federal standards — to accomplish the large task of “Improv(ing) the health and well-being of individuals and communities through the use of technology and health information that is accessible when and where it matters most.”

“Each generation of ONC leaders has smartly focused the agency on a few pressing priorities. In its first phase, ONC laid the blueprint for nationwide information sharing. Then ONC guided the rapid adoption of electronic health records by nearly all hospitals and most physicians across the U.S. More recently, ONC has championed breaking up information silos through new application programming interface (API) standards, patient data access, and information blocking regulations.”

“A small agency does not have the luxury of being everything for everyone, and constraints and focus will spur faster progress and innovation. We are excited to see ONC prioritize public health data modernization, health equity, and accelerating progress toward value-based care:

  • As Micky Tripathi said this spring at a Health Information Technology Advisory meeting, “Covid is the top priority of the administration, ONC included, full stop.” In that area, we applaud ONC’s collaboration with CDC to build a modern public health data infrastructure, that breaks the silos separating clinical care and public health, and will speed our recovery from this pandemic and support better preparation, faster response, and greater resilience for the next. The relief packages will provide funding for states, but so much more is needed. ONC’s budget proposal recognizes this priority with an increase of $13 million to “build the future healthcare data infrastructure needed to better respond to and prepare for public health emergencies, including the Covid-19 pandemic.”
  • Improve health equity by working with private and public leaders to create standards, policies, and systems to ensure that race and ethnicity, demographic, housing, and social-services data are consistently shared among health providers, health plans, and social service agencies. With this information, clinical and public health leaders can rapidly identify emerging disparities, offer services that better meet patients’ needs, improve outreach, and develop systemic solutions to increase equity…” Read the full article here.

Source: The $87 million push that could make or break our public health data system – By Claudia Williams, July 30, 2021. MedCity News.

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