Why ONC Seeks New Authorities Over Health Data Blocking

Kyle Murphy, PhD | EHR Intelligence | March 23, 2016

ONC chief highlights need for additional authorities to address health data blocking.

Increases in EHR adoption and the growth of EHR use since the passing of the law creating the EHR Incentive Programs and defining the authorities of the Office of the National Coordinator require Congress to provide the federal agency with new powers related to health data blocking. That's what National Coordinator Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc, told members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform during a Subcommittee on Information Technology hearing on Tuesday.

"You are touching on the challenge that has emerged since we have been adopting electronic health records and moving to a digitized system — that is, that state laws vary and there is some need to harmonize that," DeSalvo responded to a question from Representative Gerry Connolly (D-VA) about gaps in information sharing.

"In the short run, the Office of the National Coordinator has worked with the National Governors Association on developing a tool kit so that the states themselves can harmonize their privacy expectations so that won't be an unnatural impediment to information flow. Over the long term, clearly the health IT landscape has changed since HITECH was passed in 2009," she said of the federal agency's previous work on health information exchange...