The Health Information Technology Advisory Committee on Wednesday finalized its list of 31 issues to tackle over the next two years, including price transparency and third-party access to health data.
Members of HITAC, which provides policy recommendations to HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, voted to approve its annual report during a meeting Wednesday. Under the 21st Century Cures Act, HITAC is required to submit a report to the HHS secretary and Congress each year, outlining the group's progress and recommendations for future activities.
The ONC sets objectives for HITAC, but solicits recommendations from the group to inform those goals.
All 31 tasks proposed in the 2019 report are related to three priority areas mandated by the Cures Act: interoperability, privacy and security, and patient access to information.
HITAC suggested adding one new workgroup this year, which would look into what its members see as lack of clear rules for how third-parties handle health data that's not subject to HIPAA.
That's become a controversial topic in healthcare, as the ONC moves toward finalizing its proposed interoperability rule that would allow patients to download their own health data from providers using third-party apps. Provider groups have repeatedly expressed concern over the proposal, noting that app developers aren't held to the same privacy standards as providers.
The interoperability rule will be finalized "relatively soon," ONC chief Dr. Donald Rucker said during HITAC's meeting.
The 2019 report divides the 31 proposed tasks into immediate opportunities—which HITAC would tackle within the next two years, such as the refined focus on third-party access to health data—and longer-term goals.
HITAC in its report also flagged price transparency as an immediate opportunity, given the Trump administration's recent focus on the topic.
Other immediate activities included holding hearings on emerging technologies that help with patient matching, assessing the effectiveness of patient portals and patient-facing mobile apps, and recommending strategies for the ONC to include patient safety events related to electronic health records in the EHR reporting program.
Long-term opportunities, which HITAC doesn't anticipating starting for three or more years, included recommending steps for the ONC to take to improve interoperability with behavioral health and long-term care providers and reviewing the federal government's role in setting guidelines about interoperability at the state level.
HITAC's vote sends the nearly 70-page report to the ONC, which will transmit its approved report to the HHS secretary and Congress.
Learn more about the CMS rule making price information accessible to patients and other stakeholders. Attend Modern Healthcare's Transformation Summit on May 12 for a conversation about the impact of transparency on healthcare costs. For information, visit modernhealthcare.com//TransformationSummit.