The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Playbook


Why a Playbook?

With the nationwide focus on value and quality in health care and incentives for clinicians to transform their practices and care delivery, investing in health information technology (health IT) is an imperative. Yet the question of how to get health IT to work efficiently and effectively in practice remains a challenge for many.

Making digital information resources available in an easy-to-navigate format is one way to address this question and ease the burden of implementing and using health IT. Which is why the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) created the Playbook.

In this Playbook, you’ll find strategies, recommendations, and best practices — extensively researched and gleaned from a variety of clinical settings — to help you find the support you need. Taking these steps will help reduce the pain of implementing and using health IT in your practice to advance care information and delivery.

Who should use this Playbook

The Playbook is a tool for administrators, physician practice owners, clinicians and practitioners, practice staff, and anyone else who wants to leverage health IT. Administrators and practice owners will find help to plan, select, and implement electronic health records and to meet the requirements for certified health IT. Clinicians and practitioners will learn how to optimize the safety and use of electronic health records. And practice staff will be better equipped to protect the security of patient information and ensure patient safety.

Whether you're part of a large health system or a small practice, this Playbook can help you make the most of health IT and improve health care. You'll find resources for every step of the process, from planning to implementation to reporting.

How to use this Playbook:

With the Playbook as your guide, you can:

  • Select and optimize technology for your practice (Section 1 and Section 2)
  • Share health information securely (Section 3)
  • Use health IT solutions to address the opioid epidemic (Section 4)
  • Engage patients in their care (Section 5)
  • Reconfigure payments to incentivize value (Section 6)
  • Ensure privacy and security of personal health information (Section 7)
  • Deliver quality care that protects patient safety (Section 8)
  • Identify health IT solutions that meet the needs of unique care settings and specialists (Section 9 and Section 11)
  • Align health IT with quality measures and reporting (Section 8 and Section 10)
  • Find technical support for transforming your practice (Section 12)

Use this glossary, adapted from the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment, to help establish a common language with all stakeholders.

How this Playbook has evolved

This Playbook is not meant to be a static instruction manual — as technologies and policies evolve, so will the Playbook. Since launching the Playbook in September 2016, ONC continues to work with internal and external partners to identify relevant, timely, and actionable tools and content.

We adapted some tools and resources from ONC's Regional Extension Center (REC) program. Sixty-two RECs provided technical assistance and best practices for accelerating use of EHR technology in support of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) EHR Incentive Program (Meaningful Use).

We also added content from ONC’s Beacon Community program. The 17 communities, selected from throughout the U.S., have made inroads in developing secure, private, and accurate EHR systems and health information exchanges.

Some tools within the Playbook reference Meaningful Use Stage 1 and Stage 2. While this content remains relevant in some cases, future Playbook updates and releases will adapt existing Meaningful Use-based tools and provide resources that support new alternative payment models (APMs) and value-based care.

Future updates and releases will also:

Help us improve the Playbook

Best practices start with clinicians, administrators, and users of health IT like yourself — so we encourage you to share your feedback and suggest solutions that have worked for your practice.


References or links in this website to any specific non-federal entity, commercial product, process, service, or company do not constitute their endorsement or recommendation by the U.S. Government or HHS. HHS is not responsible for the contents of any “off-site” website linked to in this website, nor is HHS responsible for such other website’s compliance with Section 508 (accessibility).

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Content last updated on: February 28, 2018 Jay