ONC updates HIT Playbook to aid EHR implementations by practices

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The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has updated a web-based resource for helping small- to medium-sized physician practices with implementing health IT.

ONC’s Health IT Playbook, which was first developed in 2016, is a tool designed to assist clinical practices “make the most of their health IT investment and reduce the burden of electronic health records” as they adopt, optimize, upgrade or change EHR systems, according to the agency.

The guide includes strategies, recommendations and best practices to “help reduce the pain of implementing and using health IT in your practice,” states the playbook.

In particular, the updated resource has a new section focused on reducing health IT burden.

“While the nation has made tremendous progress in the adoption of health IT across the country, we recognize that clinicians continue to face health IT challenges,” writes ONC Chief Medical Officer Thomas Mason, MD, in a blog. “Feedback from the clinician community indicates that the use of and tasks related to EHRs are a key source of burden resulting in frustration, inefficiency and dissatisfaction.”

ONC’s playbook leverages strategies outlined in an agency report to Congress on reducing the regulatory and administrative burden of health IT, including: decreasing the effort and time required to record health information in EHRs for clinicians; reducing the effort and time required to meet regulatory reporting requirements for clinicians, hospitals and healthcare organizations; and improving the functionality and intuitiveness of EHRs.

“From our outreach, we heard from many clinicians that their EHR is being used more to support billing and data gathering rather than a tool to support delivering the best possible care to patients,” according to Mason. “Clinicians have also told us that figuring out how to best use EHR functionalities and capabilities that are relevant and helpful to a particular practice or situation can be difficult.”

To address these challenges, ONC’s playbook provides clinicians with tools to optimize health IT usability and usefulness. In addition, the updated resource has a new interactive module to help users understand how application programming interfaces “hold the ability to revolutionize healthcare data sharing” and how “using APIs as part of EHRs can make it easier for patients to get and share important health information.”

Other additions to the playbook include a recently updated security risk assessment tool for complying with the HIPAA Security Rule as well as an EHR contract guide for helping practices prepare to negotiate a new acquisition, upgrade or migration.

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