GAO: HHS still needs strategic EHR implementation plan

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GAO pushes HHS’ EHR adoption. Source: MedicWare  

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is recommending that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) develop a detailed implementation strategy for meeting President George W. Bush’s goal of interoperable EHR systems by 2014.

HHS officials told GAO investigators in March 2006 that the health IT strategic plan would be released late that year, according to the GAO report. However, 2009 performance plans for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology state that the office has prepared a draft of a strategic plan that it intends to release during the second quarter of 2008, the report said.

“If properly developed and implemented, this strategy should help ensure that HHS’ various health IT initiatives are integrated and effectively support the goal of widespread adoption of interoperable electronic health records,” according to the report.

The GAO also recommended HHS should develop a national strategy to protect health information.

“Such an approach should be part of a comprehensive national strategy for health IT and should include milestones for integrating the outcomes of HHS’ various privacy-related initiatives, ensure that key privacy principles are fully addressed, and address challenges associated with the nationwide exchange of health information,” the report states. “However, our recommendation for protecting health information has not yet been implemented.”

View the entire GAO report, “Health Information Technology: HHS is Pursuing Efforts to Advance Nationwide Implementation, But Has Not Yet Completed a National Strategy,” at