ONC’s Authority to Regulate Health IT

Posted on July 3, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

New National Coordinator for Health IT, Karen DeSalvo, is facing a really interesting time for ONC. The meaningful use money is close to running out and so DeSalvo has to figure out how to assure the future of the ONC organization. A part of me wonders if Farzad saw this stage of the organization coming and got out while the getting was good. Regardless, ONC has always had a challenge getting funding for its health IT efforts and with meaningful use funding close to the end it’s going to be an even bigger challenge.

I think as part of this future one option would be for ONC to become the safety and risk based regulatory body for health IT. Although, this idea has been questioned by the House Energy and Commerce Committee in a letter embedded below.

I don’t want to dive deep into the politics and regulations around this since it’s not my area of expertise. Instead, I want to discuss at a high level ONC’s future and the balance between ONC and the FDA. I’ve written about the FDA regulation of EHR before. I don’t see it happening. I don’t think it will happen and I don’t think they have the skills to make it happen.

On the other hand, should ONC start regulating it? I don’t think they have the skills or expertise either to do it effectively. Not only do they not have the funding (and that’s unlikely to change), but I don’t think they have the people who can accomplish this task. Plus, I don’t think they should regulate EHR.

I do wish that ONC would go all in on dealing with interoperability of health data. If they did this, then ONC would be an important part of healthcare’s future.

What do you think of ONC and its future? What should they be working on? What could they do to really have an impact for good on the future of health IT in the US?