ONC Releases Draft Federal Health IT Strategic Plan

On Monday, December 8, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) released the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020 in draft form.  The Plan focuses on identifying the federal government’s health IT priorities.  ONC is accepting public comments on the draft Plan, with the due date set for Friday, February 6, at 5:00 pm EST.

ONC is signaling with the release of this Plan, that although it will continue to work towards more widespread adoption of health IT, it will encourage the inclusion of new sources of information in the care delivery system and ways to promulgate the knowledge gained quickly, securely, and efficiently.

The Plan describes the government’s strategies to achieve five goals:

Goal 1: Expand Adoption of Health IT

Goal 2: Advance Secure and Interoperable Health Information

Goal 3: Strengthen Health Care Delivery

Goal 4: Advance the Health and Well-Being of Individuals and Communities

Goal 5: Advance Research, Scientific Knowledge, and Innovation

Goals 1 and 2 prioritize increasing the electronic collection and sharing of health information while protecting individual privacy.  The other three goals concentrate on federal efforts to create and sustain an environment where interoperable information is used by health care providers, public health entities, researchers, and individuals to improve health, health care, and reduce costs.  In addition, ONC is trying to instill a greater degree of flexibility with this Plan to the evolving definitions of health and health care, including how both traditional and nontraditional sources will engender valuable health information.

To further define each goal, there are objectives, outcomes, and strategies included in the Plan.  Outcomes are divided into three-year and six-year timeframes to achieve results.  The Plan also includes the federal departments and agencies that have a role in achieving each outcome, which can include using their respective authorities and programs to advance progress towards that desired outcome, but may also include that agency using health IT in the provision of direct care or support services. The underlying idea from the Plan is that federal entities will work concurrently to implement these goals, objectives, and strategies and not sequentially.

The Plan also discusses how ONC is developing a shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap to advance the use of interoperable health information, and emphasizes that interoperability is a crosscutting component of this Plan, and implementation of the Roadmap will be necessary to advance the Plan’s goals.