HHS Publishes Health IT Playbook

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The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's mission has been to help patient records move seamlessly between health care providers.

The federal government is trying to disentangle complicated IT terms for health care providers. 

The Health and Human Services Department released a "Health IT Playbook" this week, which walks health care providers through the steps of adopting an electronic health record system.

HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's mission in recent years has been to help patient records move seamlessly from one health care provider to another, requiring a broad and interoperable network of electronic health records systems

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The playbook asks providers which stage of EHR use they're in—planning and selection; adoption and implementation, optimization and workflow redesign, and EHR replacement and data migration—and describes the process of system testing, training and other subsequent steps. 

The White House has invested billions of dollars in encouraging EHR adoption, according to a statement from President Barack Obama released today. The Obama administration also launched the Precision Medicine Initiative, an effort to invest in technology that could be tailored to an individual patient's genetic makeup and lifestyle, which would rely on access to a patient's digital data. 

The Health IT Playbook and a few other EHR-related guides published this week, dubbed "National Health IT Week," are in response to "feedback we have heard from the provider community about the need for clear, reliable information about EHR contracts," according to an ONC blog post. 

One part of the guide aims to demystify the difference between "provider-hosted" electronic health records systems in which the software is licensed to an organization and accessed via a local area network, and cloud-based systems in which the vendor maintains the servers. 

ONC is also hosting a public webinar walking users through the Health IT Playbook on Sep. 30.