HHS FY 2018 Budget in Brief - ONC

Office of the Secretary, Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC)

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology leads the Nation in transforming health and health care through the advancement of an interoperable health information technology infrastructure.  The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology improves 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.

ONC Budget Overview

(Dollars in millions)

Funds 2016 2017 /1 2018 2018
+/- 2017
Budget Authority 60 60 38 -22
Program Level 60 60 38 -22
Full-time Equivalents 176 190 164 -26

Table Footnotes

1/  Reflects the annualized level of the Continuing Resolution that ended April 28, 2017, including the across the board reduction, the 21st Century Cures Act, and directed transfers.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) leads the Government’s efforts to promote and coordinate the nation-wide use of health information technology and flow of electronic health data to transform health care.  ONC serves as a resource to the entire health care community, aligning the needs of patients and providers with the innovation of health information technology (IT).

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Budget for ONC is $38 million, $22 million below the spending level appropriated through the FY 2017 Continuing Resolution.  The Budget reflects ONC’s successful progress in increasing provider adoption rates, improving usability, and advancing interoperability in order to ensure the seamless and secure flow of health information.

ONC’s budget focuses on two key priorities: interoperability of health information, and the usability of electronic health records.  The interoperability of health information is central to the core mission of the Department of Health and Human Services to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans.  ONC’s FY 2018 Budget emphasizes ONC’s continued policy coordination work, utilizing ONC’s new Health IT Advisory Committee, as required by the 21st Century Cures Act.  ONC will also focus on thwarting information blocking and prioritize its work on standards coordination, implementation, testing, and pilots to accelerate industry progress towards interoperability.

Policy Coordination

ONC will continue to develop and coordinate Federal health IT policies through collaboration with a broad range of stakeholders in order to build the necessary foundation for an interoperable, learning health system that can support a wide variety of national priorities.


21st Century Cures Act Implementation

Improving interoperability and usability are priorities not just in ONC’s budget but also in the 21st Century Cures Act. The Cures Act directs ONC to implement activities that advance interoperability through continued work combating information blocking and building health IT exchanges. In FY 2018, ONC will continue to address and discourage information blocking by aggressively implementing ONC Certification Program rules, creating and promoting channels for reporting information blocking, and enforcing information blocking provisions required by the Cures Act. The certification program will continue its oversight responsibilities and will look to improve the surveillance of certified products for ongoing adherence to technical, security, and regulatory requirements for interoperability as well as the surveillance of any potential for information blocking.

In FY 2018, ONC will combine its two Federal advisory committees into a single Health Information Technology Advisory Committee as directed by the 21st Century Cures Act.  The Health Information Technology Advisory Committee will retain the task of providing policy and standards recommendations while focusing on three priority areas: achieving interoperability; promoting and protecting the privacy and security of health information, and facilitating secure access.

Through new authorities provided in the 21st Century Cures Act, ONC will work with the Office of Inspector General to investigate and issue penalties for developers, networks, and exchanges engaged in information blocking. By curbing this harmful practice, ONC will ensure that patients and providers have access to critical electronic health information.

ONC will continue to encourage the interoperable exchange of health information by convening public and private sector stakeholders to develop and support a trusted health IT exchange network, and enhance usability.

Standards, Interoperability, and Certification

ONC develops standards and works closely with Federal agencies and other stakeholders to implement solutions that advance the seamless and secure flow of critical health information where and when it is needed most. ONC supports a variety of programs and efforts that underpin nationwide progress toward an interoperable learning health IT infrastructure that promotes the delivery of safe, efficient, cost-effective and high-quality care.

The FY 2018 Budget continues to promote interoperability through advancements to the ONC Health IT Certification Program, such as requiring as a condition of certification for health IT developers to attest that they do not engage in information blocking.  Additionally, ONC will consult with stakeholders to develop reporting criteria that measure usability and security as part of a new electronic health record reporting program created by the 21st Century Cures Act.

ONC will continue to publish the Interoperability Standards Advisory which coordinates the identification, assessment, and public awareness of interoperability standards and implementation specifications.  This web-based resource is used by the health care industry to address specific interoperability needs, including—but not limited to—clinical, public health, and research purposes.

Adoption and Meaningful Use

ONC’s efforts have led to high health IT adoption rates across the country.  As of 2015, more than 96 percent of hospitals and 78 percent of physician offices were using certified electronic health record technology. 

As a result of ONC’s shifting agency priorities and renewed focus on core health IT functions, ONC will reduce adoption support activities such as the National Learning Consortium and the Consumer e-Health program and focus efforts on statutorily required planning, evaluation, and monitoring of interoperability.  ONC also will continue to provide the latest information for patients, providers, and developers on its website, HealthIT.gov.


ONC Health IT Certification Program

The ONC Health IT Certification Program provides comprehensive, independent mechanisms to evaluate health IT for conformance to standards and functional requirements. ONC also maintains the Certified Health IT Product List, a publicly available list on ONC’s website of all health IT products certified through the ONC Health IT Certification Program. The list generates a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) electronic health record identification number that is representative of the Certified Electronic Health Record Technology used to participate in several CMS payment programs. To date, there are over 800 health IT developers with over 4,000 unique products that have been certified against 2014 Edition Certification Criteria. ONC recently produced a new website to align with the 2015 Edition final rule’s additional data needs and to support greater transparency and open data accessibility. The new website includes additional functionality, such as advance search, product compare, and application programming interface methods to enable stakeholders to openly access and combine these data with their datasets.

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