ONC Takes Steps to Promote Common Formats

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has taken several steps to increase reporting to PSOs and facilitate providers’ ability to collect data and solve problems. Among other actions, ONC has established prizes for application development and has proposed placing Common Formats (the national standard taxonomy and electronic format for reporting to PSOs) into meaningful use criteria.

Incident report system vendors are already moving toward supporting Common Formats, as hospitals nationwide are linking up with PSOs. With these new efforts by ONC, CHPSO anticipates that Common Formats will become widespread.

The Challenge

ONC is offering $70,000 in prize money to the top three contestants that develop applications to:

  • Increase the ease of reporting patient-safety events to the provider or parent organization.
  • Enable providers to import relevant EMR, PHR and other electronic information, including screen shots, to the patient-safety report and, in turn, submit an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Common Formats-compliant report to one or more PSOs.
  • Capture useful demographic and other relevant information from each patient including age, gender, race and relevant diagnoses.
  • Capture information about the type of organization submitting the report using AHRQ’s PSO information format.
  • Reduce the burden of reporting by enabling the provider or parent organization to have the option of submitting information in the patient-safety report to non-PSO public health or health oversight organizations, including state or federal programs, or accrediting or certifying bodies.
  • Be platform-agnostic.
  • Leverage and extend Nationwide Health Information Network (NwHIN) standards and services including, but not limited to, transport, content and standardized vocabularies.

Additional information is available at

Meaningful Use

The HITECH Act includes financial incentives for demonstrating meaningful use of electronic health record (EHR) technology. Now, ONC is considering an addition to the meaningful use criteria that would support reporting events, close calls and unsafe conditions involving EHRs to PSOs. This proposal is included in the recent Notice of Proposed Rule Making available at 77 FR 13832, in Section 170.314(g)(4) Safety-enhanced design.