The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) is a staff division of the Office of the Secretary, within the US Government Department of Health and Human Services.

ONC was formed in 2004, and became very significant as part of the overall process of the adoption of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, which in turn was part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, aka “Stimuus” or “Recovery Act”).

ONC is tasked with promoting development of a nationwide Healthcare IT (HIT) infrastructure that allows for electronic use and exchange of information – in accordance with a broad range of US healthcare quality and cost objectives. In that context, ONC provides leadership in the development, recognition, and implementation of standards and the certification of HIT products, coordinates US HIT policy, is responsible for planning for HIT adoption and health information exchange in the US, and establishes governance for the evolving US Nationwide Health Information Network.

ONC and Meaningful Use
ONC owns the definition of the Meaningful Use (MU) objectives, programs, certification criteria, etc. – and drives much of the substance of the EHR Incentive Programs that MU supports.

For example, the TTT Validator used to validate C-CDA documents in the context of MU certification testing, is under the auspices of ONC, although directly maintained by a different US government agency (NIST, the National Institute of Science and Technology).

You can learn more about ONC and its many activities at the HealthIT.gov web site.ONC also manages the Standards and Interoperability (S&I) Framework – refer to the article What is the S&I Framework?, for more information.

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