AHIMA pushes Congress to fund ONC, continue investing in EHR interoperability

The industry group argued that not adequately funding the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT would undermine the 21st Century Cures Act and inhibit work toward a learning health system.
By Tom Sullivan
01:31 PM
AHIMA pushes Congress to fund ONC, continue investing in EHR interoperability

The American Health Information Management Association late Friday called on Congress to fund the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT and said not doing so would be a detriment to the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act.

“We urge you to maintain sufficient funding for ONC to meet its statutory obligations under the 21st Century Cures Act,” AHIMA CEO Lynn Thomas Gordon wrote in a letter to Sens. Patty Murray and Roy Blunt, ranking member and chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies in the U.S. Senate.

[Also: The dawn of precision medicine has begun, ONC says]

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Gordon said that ONC plays a key role in a number of critical areas within health IT.

The first is standards development to advance the interoperability of patient data among EHRs, personal health records, medical devices and other healthcare technologies. The second area is in convening all necessary stakeholders to create a Trusted Exchange Framework and the information governance to support that.

Gordon also pointed to ONC as a federal partner involved with patient’s rights to access their data under HIPAA and otherwise.

“We understand that Congress faces difficult choices in funding a variety of priorities with limited resources. However, failure to adequately fund ONC will undermine a major tenet of the Cures Act,” Gordon wrote.

[Also: 21st Century Cures Act a boon to telehealth, experts say]

And she cited an analysis of 21st Century Cures by the U.S. House of Representative’s Committee on Energy and Commerce of that tenet: “the delivery of new drugs and devices to the right patient at the right time by ensuring electronic health record systems are interoperable for seamless patient care and . . . [to] fully realize the benefits of a learning healthcare system.”

Twitter: SullyHIT
Email the writer: tom.sullivan@himssmedia.com

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