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HHS FY2016 Budget in Brief

Department of Health and Human ServicesOffice of the Secretary, Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC)

Five members of a medical staff.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology fosters modernization and innovation of the American health care system through the optimization of health information technology. These investments will support better decisionmaking by consumers, clinicians, health care managers, and policy-makers at all levels of the health care system.

ONC Budget Overview

(Dollars in millions)

Funds 2014 2015 2016 2016
+/‑ 2015
Budget Authority 16 60 0 -60
PHS Evaluation Funds 45 -- 92 +92
Program Level 60 60 92 +32

Full Time Equivalents

2014: 171
2015: 185
2016: 200
2016 +/- 2015: +15

ONC Activities

The FY 2016 Budget for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is $92 million, $32 million above FY 2015. The Budget reflects the need for continued progress towards greater optimization of health information technology (IT) to further care transformation and increase interoperability through policies, standards, and programs that will assist both providers and consumers. It will foster greater collaboration in support of health IT across the government by building federal and national consensus around implementing the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan.

In FY 2016, ONC’s investments will reflect a greater focus on interoperability through standards development, certification, and governance structures to support the requirements of Meaningful Use Stage 3. Meaningful Use Stage 3 seeks to support data exchange in a safe and secure manner utilizing standards that support interoperability and patient engagement for an enhanced care delivery system and patient experience.

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Standards, Interoperability, and Certification

ONC will continue to make strategic investments in standards development, harmonization, and pilots in order to accelerate industry progress in specific areas that require interoperability. This investment will support development and testing of standards to ensure interoperability and an expanded certification program to meet the requirements of Stage 3 Meaningful Use and the new Department-wide Precision Medicine initiative.

Supporting the Standards and Interoperability Framework will enable ONC to further coordinate critical data standards in support of interoperability for summary health care records, laboratory data exchange, and diagnostic results areas, which are high priorities for health care providers.

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Policy Development and Coordination

Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020

The Federal Health IT Strategic Plan utilizes policy levers to build a national consensus for promotion and achievement of interoperability across the country. The 2015-2020 Plan embodies a mission to improve health, health care, and reduce costs through the use of information and technology. Five goals have been identified to collect, share, and use electronic health information to advance the nation’s health and health care goals.

  • Expand Adoption of Health IT
  • Advance Secure and Interoperable Health Information
  • Strengthen Health Care Delivery
  • Advance the Health and Well-Being of Individuals and Communities
  • Advance Research, Scientific Knowledge, and Innovation

ONC will engage state and local governments, public health stakeholders, payers, and other interested parties to build consensus around and implement key outcomes included in the plan.

As the federal entity responsible for developing the framework and leading on federal health IT policy, ONC seeks to provide policy solutions for health IT issues regarding the use and exchange of electronic health information. In FY 2016, ONC will continue working on the expansion of the Certification Program’s regulatory guidance for health care providers – such as mental and behavioral health and long‑term care facilities – that are ineligible under the Meaningful Use Program. This approach includes publishing annual, voluntary certification regulations and guidance documents. These voluntary certification documents will help ineligible providers be interoperable with other providers.

Through federal advisory committees and the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan, ONC will continue to ensure that federal health IT policies promote interoperability, patient safety, health IT usability, and clinical quality improvement by integrating a clinical perspective.

In FY 2016, ONC will continue the analysis of health IT-related adverse events tracking benchmarks to inform the development of interventions and usability of standards for widespread implementation. The Health IT Safety Center will become operational in FY 2017.

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Governance of Health Information Exchange

ONC will transition to a governance approach in FY 2016 for health information exchange that will involve both policy collaboration and development across industry and government. Governance will be required to ensure providers can effectively meet the Meaningful Use Program Stage 3 objectives in the 2017 edition of health IT certification. ONC’s governance approach will ensure that a common set of policies, standards, and practices are set forth to facilitate safe and secure exchange of patient’s health data. This model, which consists of states, health information entities, and other governance entities, will enable information to be readily available to patients when and where they access care.

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Adoption, Utilization, and Meaningful Use

In FY 2016, ONC will pivot from providing technical assistance to providers through the Regional Extension Center program to educating providers through HealthIT.gov, a federal resource dedicated to health IT for both consumers and health care professionals. This site will provide solutions and best practices on common challenges providers face in achieving meaningful use and interoperability.

Accelerated Health IT adoption

Medical information is the lifeblood of the healthcare delivery system. Electronic Health Records are the key vehicles for transporting this information, making it accessible to both patient and provider. In 2008, EHR adoption rate for providers using a “basic” electronic health record was 17 percent. Since the establishment of the Meaningful Use Program and Electronic Health Record implementation assistance programs such as the Regional Extension Centers, that rate has grown to over 48 percent in 2013.Surpassing the Department’s goal to assist 100,000 providers with the adoption of Electronic Health Records, ONC, through the 62 Regional Extension Centers, has helped over 150,000 providers implement electronic health record systems and achieve meaningful use of health information technology. The Department continues to provide assistance as new requirements are identified for the Meaningful Use Electronic Health Records Incentive program. This support has resulted in over 100 million patients having access to electronic prescriptions, resulting in reduced medication related errors; patient visit summaries, allowing patients to more fully understand and participate in their health care; and evidence‑based care recommendations based on quality measures and indicators.

Source: Health and Human Services. Report to Congress: Update on the Adoption of Health Information Technology and Related Efforts to Facilitate the Electronic Use and Exchange of Health Information. October 2014.

Consumer eHealth

ONC will convene stakeholders, identify barriers, and develop strategies so consumers can electronically send, receive, find and use their health information. ONC will focus on supporting consumer access to electronic health information, enabling the development of interoperable mobile and other tools that help consumers to use their health information effectively, and increasing consumer awareness of and demand for digital health information and tools. More specifically, ONC will support providers in their efforts to engage and share data with patients as required by the Meaningful Use Program, and, via the Blue Button Pledge Program, support other organizations such as pharmacies, labs, and health insurance companies in data sharing.

ONC will continue to develop a portfolio of recommended national standards for structured health data sharing in order to encourage the technology development community to build useful tools, and will work with federal partners and the private sector on an ongoing consumer education and awareness campaign. ONC will also continue to enhance the resources it has created to help consumers better locate their health data electronically, and articulate policies that make it easier for patients to share their own health data with their doctors.

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Content created by Office of Budget (OB)
Content last reviewed on February 2, 2015