ONC EHR Reporting Program RFI: A Public Health Perspective

Noam H. Arzt, Ph.D.On August 24, 2018, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released a Request for Information (RFI) related to the EHR Reporting Program. This RFI is required by the 21st Century Cures Act and its primary purpose is to gather ideas and suggestions related to how ONC might provide better information about Certified EHR Technology (CEHRT).

Apparently, the initial intention was to create a "star rating" like the type used in Consumer Reports to use to rate EHRs, but that seems to have been abandoned in favor of some kind of measurement system. But it is far from clear exactly how this would be done. There may be something to learn from the Immunization Information System (IIS) community: with guidance from the CDC, the American Immunization Registry Association (AIRA) initiated a process to help assess compliance of IIS with national functional standards through a formal measurement and improvement initiative. "Validation," rather than "certification" or "compliance," is the carefully-chosen term to signify a system meeting the designated measures through formal testing. The process is interactive, and the results are only made public with the agreement of the IIS program. Perhaps some of the concepts and processes in this initiative can be useful for the EHR Reporting Program.

Frankly, there is not much of interest in here for public health, which is not in the business of worrying about CEHRT. Of course, the quality and functionality of EHR products does impact their effectiveness in supporting interoperability with public health registries. To that end, the RFI does as some questions towards the end (p. 42918) about additional information that might be useful for prospective purchasers of CEHRT, including "Submitting, editing, and retrieving data from registries, such as clinician-led clinical data registries."

ONC asks for how they might prioritize including information related to this in EHR Reporting as well as data sources for reporting about this. It may be useful for public health to weigh in on these questions; comments are due no later than 5 p.m. on October 17, 2018 at the Federal eRulemaking Portal.