New ONC tools to help developers comply with new interoperability rules

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has published a series of guides and toolkits to help tech developers get a jump on compliance with its 21st Century Cures Act Final Rule.

The compliance dates for ONC’s information blocking rules may have been pushed back due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, but they still draw nearer by the day.

So ONC has provided these new resources, meant to help the health IT developer community build products that meet the new certification requirements for standards-based APIs that can be used “without special effort.”

Among the new resources, the 2015 Edition Cures Update Key Dates compiles the timelines to developers need to adhere to as the work to develop certified systems, and help them keep apprised of the requirements they must meet along the way.

ONC’s Cert Notes: 2015 Edition Cures Update Reference document is a one-stop shop noting all the changes made to the 2015 Edition Certification Criteria requirements as outlined in the ONC Cures Act Final Rule. Developers can use it to understand new adjustments to specific certification criteria as they work toward ‘2015 Edition Cures Update” certification status for their modules, officials say.

And the API Resource Guide is geared toward IT developers seeking ONC certification to one or more of the API certification criteria (170.315(g)(7) – (g)(10)) or compliance with API Conditions or Maintenance of Certification requirements, says ONC. It incorporates clarifications from the ONC Cures Act Final Rule preamble, Certification Companion Guides, and additional educational materials to assist health IT developers to meet the API requirements of the ONC Certification Program.

ONC also encouraged all healthcare tech developers – not just those seeking certification in light of the Cures Act – to familiarize themselves with legislation’s goals and requirements, since they will be reshaping the ways data is exchanged across the health ecosystem in the years to come.

Meanwhile, the agency heard from various stakeholder groups this week about its compliance timelines.

In a January 4 letter to ONC chief Dr. Donald Rucker, more than a dozen organizations, including the American Medical Informatics Association, the American Telemedicine Association, Microsoft, Boston Children’s Hospital and the Pew Charitable Trusts called on ONC to push toward API requirements without any further delay – requiring implementation of the regulations “no later than the end of 2022 so that patients and health care providers can better access and use the data in records to improve the coordination, quality, and safety of care.”

In another letter, meanwhile, the Medical Group Management Association urged Rucker to hold off on the start date of the rules’ information blocking provisions – currently set for three months from now, on April 5 – until at least 180 days after the COVID-19 public health emergency has been lifted by HHS.

MGMA also asked ONC to “engage in an aggressive effort to educate physician practices on the provisions” of what it called an “extremely complex” set of rules.

“As you can see, ONC has available a variety of resources to help health IT developers comply with the ONC Cures Act Final Rule,” said Rob Anthony, director of ONC’s certification and testing division, in a blog post about the new resources. “We hope the health IT developer community finds these useful as important compliance dates approach.”


Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
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Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS publication.

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