The Department of Health and Human Services is opening National Health IT Week with two document releases designed to facilitate the adoption of electronic health records.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology unveiled two new releases on Sept. 26, one new and one updated, to help further smooth the road to EHR adoption.

The new guide, EHR Contracts Untangled, is an informative guide designed to help health providers who are negotiating EHR systems contracts.

The guide walks providers through the process of acquiring an EHR management system, including types of records systems, data rights, contract negotiations and intellectual property rights issues.

"As we move to transform the health care system into one that delivers more coordinated care across various clinicians and providers, it is important that data is available to providers and patients when and where they need it," new National Coordinator for Health IT Vindell Washington and Acting Administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Andy Slavitt said in a joint release announcing the contract guide.

"To achieve this goal of ensuring the flow of health data and, ultimately, better care, the country has invested in the technology and infrastructure to connect patients’ clinical experiences."

The new guide is an expansion of its 2013 explainer of key EHR contract terms to understand.

ONC also updated its Health IT Playbook, expanding the online tool to encompass the new contract guide along with other features like its Security Risk Assessment Tool to evaluate providers’ compliance with the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act, as well as an interactive map to help providers obtain possible federal funding.

ONC officials said they want the Health IT Playbook to continue to be an innovative and go-to resource for providers that will grow and update even as Health IT becomes more profuse and intuitive.

"Because we know that the journey of health IT can be complex and at times overwhelming, we designed the new Playbook to be accessible to even the busiest providers," said ONC Chief Medical Officer Thomas A. Mason and Lauren Richie, director of the Learning & Engagement Division in the Office of Programs and Engagement in a joint statement.

"Much of the design of the new Playbook is based on feedback and input gathered from practicing physicians, professional medical societies, federal partners and recommendations made by the Consumer Task Force of the Health IT Policy and Standards Committees." National Health IT Week featuresa number of events and informational sessions designed to help health providers learn more about technology and policy implementation.

ONC will offer a webinar on Sept. 30 to showcase the updated Health IT Playbook for registered users.

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