Last week, the American Hospital Association sent a letter to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT that proposes the agency prioritize certain goals outlined in its Federal Health IT Strategic Plan, Becker’s Health IT & CIO Review reports (Jayanthi, Becker’s Health IT & CIO Review, 2/9).
Background on Strategic Plan
HHS first created the strategic plan in June 2008. The 2009 economic stimulus package tasked ONC with updating that plan.
ONC in December 2014 released the new Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020, which will serve as a strategy for the federal government, was the result of input from about 35 federal entities. The plan includes five goals:
- Further the adoption of health IT, while increasing user and market confidence in the safety of such products and fostering a national communications framework to support care delivery, health and safety;
- Advance secure and interoperable health data by enabling individuals to securely receive, send and use such data, and take steps to keep those data secure through technical standards;
- Strengthen the delivery of health care;
- Improve individuals’ and communities’ health and well-being by promoting health engagement; and
- Advance innovation and research by increasing access and use of high-quality electronic health data and services, fostering the development and commercialization of innovative products (iHealthBeat, 12/8/14).
In the letter, AHA Senior Vice President of Public Policy Analysis and Development Linda Fishman wrote that while “the broad goals outlined in the strategic plan are important for the nation … AHA believes that some goals should be prioritized over others” (AHA News Now, 2/6).
Specifically, Fishman wrote that ONC should prioritize two objectives under the second goal:
- Enabling patients and stakeholders to securely find, send, receive and use electronic health information; and
- Find, prioritize and advance technical standards that will support secure and interoperable health information.
She noted that these objectives “are a prerequisite to fulfilling other goals and should, therefore, be addressed first” (Fishman, AHA letter, 2/6).
In addition, AHA urged ONC to continue efforts designed to improve the process of matching patients with their records.
AHA asked ONC to provide more details on how such goals will be met, including specific activities by agencies, completion timelines and methods for assessing whether current federal resources are sufficient to achieve those goals.
It also recommended ONC create a website or other forum available to the public to “provide transparency” on the agency’s progress (Becker’s Health IT & CIO Review, 2/9).