Lyniate Team

By the numbers: ONC leaders provide progress report on digitizing healthcare

October 27, 2016

Ecosystem Thinking Accelerates Innovation

In Health Affairs, the former and current ONC coordinator for health IT, Karen DeSalvo and Vindell Washington, provide a state of the industry report that offers some encouraging signs that healthcare is beginning to reap the rewards of moving away from paper-based processes.

Some of the key stats cited include:

  • 96% of all hospitals use certified EHRs
  • 84% of all academic studies show that EHRs have a positive, or mixed-positive, impact on quality, safety, and efficiency of care
  • 78% of all physicians use certified EHRs

However, DeSalvo and Washington write that these positive signs are only steps in a long process that will result in a learning, person-centered health system. And, as readers of this blog can attest, they say that data interoperability is a vital component to transforming care using technology, as they envision.

According to DeSalvo and Washington, interoperability will be advanced through the following 3 goals:

  1. The use of common, federally recognized, national standards;
  2. Changing the culture around access to information — including combating data blocking; and,
  3. Building the business case for interoperability.

To achieve these goals, the Administration is leveraging impactful tools: delivery system reforms that drive a business case for interoperability; new guidance on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to make providers and individuals aware of patients’ rights to access and transmit their data; and requiring publishing application programming interfaces (APIs) to enhance the connectivity between EHRs and provider and consumer applications.


Collaboration with states and the private sector is vital to this work. We have been working diligently with stakeholders, who we invited to sign a pledge indicating their commitment to advancing toward an interoperable community of health. The pledge covered three key commitments: help consumers easily and securely access their electronic health information, direct it to any desired location, learn how their information can be shared and used, and be assured that this information will be effectively and safely used to benefit their health and that of their community; securely and appropriately share individuals’ health information whenever permitted by law and not knowingly or unreasonably block the flow of electronic health information; and adopt federally recognized, national interoperability standards, policies, guidance, and practices for electronic health information, including those related to privacy and security.

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