MAY 18, 2009

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ONC Issues Operating Plan for HITECH

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The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has released to Congress an operating plan for implementing provisions of the HITECH Act within the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“This operating plan outlines immediate actions to meet statutory requirements and to begin the huge task ahead,” according to the eight-page document. “Over the next several weeks, ONC will hold hearings and meetings to develop and vet plans and procedures.”

The plan describes 19 upcoming regulations, guidance, reports and studies regarding the enhanced HIPAA privacy and security rules, and their due dates under the law. It also lists six tasks, and due dates, for heightened enforcement of the rules.

The plan spells out the steps--and some timetables--for defining “meaningful use” of an electronic health record; contracting for technical standards analysis services with the National Institute of Standards and Technology; adoption of initial standards, implementation specifications and certification criteria; updating the federal health I.T. strategic plan and communicating with the public.

“Specific understanding of what constitutes meaningful use will be determined through a process that will include broad stakeholder input and discussion,” according to the document. “HHS is developing milestones for major phases of the program’s activities with planned delivery dates.”

Further, the operating plan outlines a number of performance measures, such as increased physician adoption of EHRs, under the forthcoming strategic plan.

The operating plan is available at hhs.gov.

--Joseph Goedert

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