ONC dashboard to evaluate health IT grantees

By Mary Mosquera
10:04 AM

As it seeks to evaluate and improve the adoption of electronic health records through its grants to states and other assistance, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT will create an online dashboard to monitor progress.

The data sets ONC is developing and will share with partners will enable it to assess how well grantees, such as the 62 regional health IT extension centers, are doing compared with each other, validate their progress reports and track performance improvements so they can receive payment.

[See also: ONC awards $60M in research grants for health IT.]

ONC will also make publicly available de-identified data from the records, such as health IT adoption estimates at the state and national level, according to ONC in a Dec. 21 announcement in a preview section of the Federal Register.

Federal agencies must publish a notice when they are creating a new system of records with information that is covered by the Privacy Act and how they plan to safeguard it. The public can comment on the new data system for 30 days.

Hospitals, physicians, community colleges and state-designated organizations have received ONC grants and assistance with EHR deployment.

Of those, the Privacy Act protects information only related to individual office-based providers, including those participating in the extension centers and the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs. The extension centers assist physicians and small practices over the hurdles to deploy EHRs and become meaningful users of health IT.

ONC intends to collect data about physicians’ health IT implementation, demographics and contact information from their National Provider Identifier (NPI).

“ONC partners and ONC grantees will only have access to data specifically pertaining to the achievement of that entity’s grant or contract purpose,” ONC said in its notice.

The system will not contain information about patients, ONC assured.

[See also: Dashboard tracks federal IT spending.]

ONC will protect the physician’s information by limiting the system’s internal interface to a small group of authorized researchers who will be restricted to the specific data that they need to perform their job, by requiring user registration and log-in, and safeguarding the data according to federal security requirements.

Among accepted routine uses of the data, ONC said it could also disclose the physicians’ information to other federal and state agencies, the Justice Department in the course of litigation or official business. and the National Archives for records management.