Physician Practice

ONC offers EHR comparison shopping guidelines

Physician Practice Insider, May 3, 2016

Physicians have an array of EHRs and other health IT (HIT) products to choose from, but picking the best product for a practice’s needs can be difficult and burdensome for already busy staff. HIT comparison tools can make the choice easier; however, current HIT comparison tools are often commercial products or maintained by various medical societies for their member’s use. An April 14 report by the Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT (ONC) suggests four methods for improving the data used by these tools, thereby providing more accurate and meaningful results.

The ONC initially conducted research to determine if the agency should create its own HIT comparison tool. The report concluded that the HIT comparison tool market is already saturated and it’s not currently necessary for the agency to develop its own tool. However, the agency possesses data that it could provide to help improve existing tools. The ONC identified four actions it could take that could be used to fulfill this aim:

  • Offering technical assistance to providers
  • Sharing knowledge of the comparison tool marketplace
  • Releasing information on certified HIT products
  • Collaborating with developers and other stakeholders to create tools tailored to providers’ needs

The first measure addresses the need for overall technical support to the healthcare industry, particularly specialists and rural providers. The second measure would involve the creation of a comparison tool clearinghouse for providers, while the third and fourth measures outline strategies to help developers by making information available to the public and improving collaboration between developers, other stakeholders, and the federal government.

Although ONC believes these mechanisms can help all providers, those in rural or low-resource practices may benefit the most, the report says.

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