ONC Announces Plans To Sunset Standards Committee Work Groups

May 20, 2015 in News

On Wednesday, Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT officials announced plans to replace the Health IT Standards Committee’s permanent work groups with time-limited task forces, Healthcare Informatics reports.

ONC acting Deputy National Coordinator Jon White and Steven Posnack, director of ONC’s Office of Standards and Technology, made the announcement in a blog post (Raths, Healthcare Informatics, 5/20).

Restructuring Details

According to the blog post, ONC will sunset its permanent work groups by the end of June — the same month that the agency enters its next membership renewal phase.

The work groups will continue their work until the beginning of July, at which point a task force will be assembled to identify specific issues that ONC seeks advice for.

The Health IT Standards Committee will continue to seek expert and public feedback through “targeted, time-limited task forces.”

White and Posnack noted that such a focused, temporary approach will:

  • Allow for participation from a more diverse group of stakeholders; and
  • Set clear time commitments for task forces to conduct research (White/Posnack, “Health IT Buzz,” 5/20).

During a Health IT Standards Committee meeting on Wednesday, White said that it “became clear … that it is hard to figure out how to divide … up [tasks] among existing work groups.” He added, “Hopefully, this new structure will be more efficient with your time as a committee as well as make it easier for the public to participate.”

Reaction

During the meeting, current work group members expressed their disappointment with the plan, Healthcare Informatics reports.

Dixie Baker — a consultant with Martin, Blanck and Associates who has led a security-focused work group for several years — said, “I think it is a serious mistake to abandon the subject-matter focus for a task-force focus.”

Meanwhile, committee member Arien Malec of RelayHealth Clinical Solutions said it was not “respectful to announce a reorganization via a blog post,” noting that ONC should have sought feedback on suggestions to fix issues with the work groups.

Malec added, “I very much worry that the proposed structure gets us in a reactive, tactical mode.”

Jodi Daniel, director of ONC’s Office of Policy, said ONC understood the committee’s concerns with the plan, but she urged members to show patience.

Danile said, “If we are really missing something, we can always re-evaluate and stand up a work group” (Healthcare Informatics, 5/20).

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