ONCHIT releases U.S. health IT plan for public, private sectors

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The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT), part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Tuesday released a comprehensive strategic plan for advancing health IT, which will serve as a guide to coordinate the federal government’s health IT efforts.

The plan will seek to achieve nationwide implementation of an interoperable health IT infrastructure throughout both the public and private sectors.

The ONCHIT Strategic Plan focuses efforts along two primary goals: patient-focused healthcare and population health.

The first goal envisions a transformation to higher quality, more cost-efficient care, meeting patients’ needs, through electronic health information access and use, ONCHIT said. The second goal, related to population health, envisions the appropriate, authorized and timely access and use of electronic health information to benefit public health, biomedical research, quality improvement and emergency preparedness.

The objectives, strategies and milestones have been established for each goal, which portray the totality of what must be done, in a coordinated manner distributed across the federal government to address privacy and security concerns; achieve an interoperable health IT architecture to ensure reliable data exchange; accelerate IT adoption; and foster collaborative governance. 

The plan was developed by ONCHIT, working in collaboration with 12 agencies and staff divisions within HHS, the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Veterans Affairs and the Federal Communications Commission. Two federal advisory bodies—the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics and the American Health Information Community (AHIC)—also informed some of the strategies and milestones that are cited in the plan.

“Significant work has been completed to date to advance the nationwide health IT agenda. The plan provides an extensive documentation of the work completed by ONC and other federal partners over the past five years,” said Robert Kolodner, national coordinator for health IT. “It also establishes the next generation of health IT milestones to harness the power of IT to help transform health and care in this country.’’

A copy of the complete plan as well as a plan synopsis can be found here.