04 Jun Feds release strategic plan for national healthcare IT
Washington, D.C. – A comprehensive plan to advance the federal government’s healthcare information technology initiatives will focus on patient care and population health, according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.
The plan will guide the federal government in its efforts to achieve nationwide interoperability of the health IT infrastructure. It comes as healthcare organizations continue their adoption of healthcare IT like electronic medical records. In Wisconsin, the most recent example is the implementation of Epic System’s EMR at St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison.
It was developed by ONC in collaboration with 12 agencies and staff divisions within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Departments of Commerce, Defense, and Veterans Affairs, and the Federal Communications Commission.
According to the report, the plan will be a success when healthcare IT becomes common and expected in care delivery nationwide, including for underserved and disadvantaged populations. Another measure of the plan’s success will when patient health information becomes available to them and their caregivers for more informed consumer choices and decision-making in the delivery of care, the report said.
Dr. Robert Kolodner, national coordinator for health information technology, said in a statement released with the report that significant work has been completed to advance the nationwide health IT agenda. The plan provides an extensive documentation of the work completed by ONC and other federal partners over the past five years, and catalogs current federal activities that are focused on health IT.
“It also establishes the next generation of health IT milestones to harness the power of information technology to help transform health and care in this country,” Kolodner stated.
The report said the goal of the federal government is to reach a tipping point where the momentum of healthcare IT adoption becomes unstoppable.
The plan outlines strategies that have been established for collaborative efforts to maintain privacy and security and develop federal interoperability standards for vendors that serve private sector healthcare organizations and the federal government. It also mentions the federal government’s interest in facilitating state-based efforts for “protected health information exchange,” and for increasing stakeholder trust in healthcare IT through education.
Among the actions it calls for is the need to address “apparently inconsistent statutes and regulations” for health information exchange. The authors of the report expect a Nationwide Health Information Network to evolve over time.
The plan also called for incentives for the use of electronic medical records, noting that the adoption of healthcare IT among physicians rose slowly from 10 percent in 2005 to 14 percent in 2007.
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