Report: HHS paving the road for continued health IT efforts
A recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) evaluated the progress of the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) which since mid-2005 has sought to develop a national health IT strategy. The GAO report indicates that the HHS’ efforts towards this goal are well on their way and look to continue for the foreseeable future.
One of the key elements behind the HHS efforts thus far, according to the GAO, was the development of the American Health Information Community which acts as an advisory body of players from the public and private sector to bring ideas about how to obtain health IT objectives, such as making electronic medical records widely available and to tackle system interoperability so that hospitals can easily talk to one another. To this end, the community plans to establish different groups to focus on developments in four areas, including: consumer empowerment, biosurveillance, electronic health records, and chronic care management. This work is planned for completion within one calendar year.
Overall, the GAO found in its analysis that HHS has awarded about $42 million in contracts to an assortment of parties to evaluate standards – especially weary of gaps and duplication in efforts and to better understand how state and federal law might conflict in the areas such as privacy and security issues.
Other HHS demonstration grants have been given to the AHRQ (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality) and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) National Prevention Information Network towards the adoption of health IT throughout the healthcare industry, GAO said.