New Federal Strategic Plan Proposed for Health Information Technology

Family Practice Recertification, December 2014, Volume 32, Issue 12

The federal government recently established a new strategic plan for Health Information Technology which is expected to be in effect until 2020.

The federal government recently established a new strategic plan for Health Information Technology which is expected to be in effect until 2020.

According to a press release from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020 was put together with the help of more than 35 agencies as well as the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology.

The release noted that the plan is intended to “appropriately collect, share, and use interoperable health information to improve health care, individual, community and public health, and advance research across the federal government and in collaboration with private industry.”

Crafted to help define how the government shares health information with the private sector, the new plan looks to make information as safe and effective as possible. The release said the current plan is a continuation of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical health Act of 2009 (HITECH).

With HITECH, the federal government assisted with “the adoption of certified electronic health record (EHR) technology among hospitals and providers, with 93% of eligible hospitals and 76% of physicians and eligible professionals taking part in the first stage of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.”

That plan also spawned smaller efforts undertaken by more than 150,000 providers at the regional level to optimize their use of the new technology available.

“The 2015 Strategic Plan provides the federal government a strategy to move beyond health care to improve health, use health IT beyond EHRs, and use policy and incentive levers beyond the incentive programs,” noted Karen DeSalvo, MD, national coordinator for health IT and active assistant secretary of health.” The success of this plan is also dependent upon insights from public and private stakeholders and we encourage their comments.”

One of the goals of the plan is to not only create incentives for healthcare professionals to use the new technology, but also to encourage different entities to “bring new tools to health IT consumers and provide tools to help strengthen health care delivery that aligns with other national strategies to improve health including safety, quality, prevention, and reducing disparities.

Karen S. Guice, MD, MPP, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for health affairs said she was hopeful that for her department the new guidelines would provide more help for the many people under their umbrella. “As a large provider and purchaser of care, we continually look for ways to expand the sharing of critical healthcare information with our healthcare partners.

The strategy will help not only active government and military employees but also veterans who have seen many complications with their care in recent years, particularly in regards to record keeping.

“The Federal Health IT Strategic Plan collectively represents specific goals and strategies for how interoperability will be leveraged to foster the technological advancement of health information exchange to improve quality care for Veterans while supporting patient-provider interaction,” said Gail Graham, deputy secretary for health information and analytics at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration, Office of Health Information.”

The strategic plan is currently open to public comment and more information can be found here.