HHS calls in all players for health IT strategic plan

HHS calls in all players for health IT strategic plan

As acting assistant secretary for health at the Health and Human Services Department, Karen DeSalvo is heading up the near-Herculean task of transforming the way the nation’s health care system handles information. DeSalvo, who is also national coordinator for health information technology, along with numerous federal and industry stakeholders, has helped craft HHS’s Healthcare IT roadmap, a multi-year guideline to reshape health information systems, data-sharing and the seamless flow of patient medical records between systems, known as interoperability.

DeSalvo took some time to talk to Carten Cordell about the work of her team, in collaboration with agency partners and industry stakeholders, to remake the way the nation’s health system can efficiently and secure share patient information. 

Can you talk about the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan and how this latest version developed?

When we started this process, we decided to pull together federal partners across the government. In the past, what we have done is written the strategic plan through straw men and then gone and talked to the various federal partners to get their feedback. We thought at this point that there was so much important conversation that needed to happen that we would pull together a Health IT council. We thought about who would have really important programmatic of policy considerations and who was involved in health IT.

The prior strategic plan had been more about a set of programs that evolved out of high tech, the meaningful use program and electronic health records. It made a lot of sense at the time that we did it because that is what we were really pushing to do, but it was so refreshing and exciting to know that we had this very quick consensus across the federal partners that this was about people and this was about seeing that the technology would enable not just our work, but our work to advance the health of this country. And we rolled out from there.

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