Health IT Pulse

Mar 28 2011   12:41PM GMT

Federal health IT strategic plan coming together

Beastwood Profile: Beastwood

Health IT policy
Meaningful use

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) seeks comments on its health IT strategic plan. Unveiled March 25, the 80-page plan updates a version published in 2008. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act required this update.

The new plan covers a lot of familiar ground, from meaningful use to the Electronic Health Record Incentive Programs. In addition, it sets five main goals for the next five years.

  • Support health information exchange (HIE).
  • Emphasize care quality as required by health care reform.
  • Improve the privacy and security of protected health information (PHI).
  • Improve patient access to electronic PHI.
  • Use clinical data analytics to study health trends across large populations.

If these goals are achieved by 2015, the industry will reach a state of “transformed health care,” according to the plan’s authors. In addition to the oft-stated goals of improving care quality and efficiency, such a transformation will make it easier to study and implement improvements to care delivery and payment systems, the plan asserts.

These goals have evolved since the strategic plan workgroup of the Health IT Policy Committee presented its draft plan nearly one year ago. In particular, the emphasis on HIE, analytics and patient access represents a shift from broader goals, such as supporting a learning health system, encouraging meaningful use and improving technical infrastructure.

This is not surprising. The last 12 months have suggested that health care providers, while enthusiastic about meaningful use, also are concerned about the rapid pace with which they have been asked to implement the technology necessary to achieve meaningful use. By providing specific goals, the health IT strategic plan puts the ONC’s various initiatives in perspective. That in turn assures health care providers that their investments are part of a much larger effort.

The comment period for the health IT strategic plan ends April 22. Comments can be left at the ONC’s Health IT Buzz blog.

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