ONC's Federal Action Plan for Health IT Improvement Over 5 Years

The federal government intends to modernize the US health information technology (IT) infrastructure so patients, providers, and communities can achieve health and wellness goals.

The federal government intends to modernize the US health information technology (IT) infrastructure so patients, providers, and communities can achieve health and wellness goals.

Nearly 1 full year ago, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) unveiled the draft for a 10-year plan for healthcare interoperability, and now it has released the updated Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020.

“Health IT only achieves its full potential when it seamlessly supports individuals as they strive to take control of their own health,” National Coordinator for Health IT Karen B. DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc, said in a statement. “Implementing the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan over the next five years drives toward a public-private partnership to achieve interoperability and will help the nation achieve important health outcomes, while remaining flexible to the evolving nature of health care and technology.”

As Dr DeSalvo explained in a blog post on the ONC website, the Plan is an action plan for federal partners and it includes strategies and objectives that support the use of health IT to accomplish ongoing federal initiatives and plans, such as precision medicine and delivery system reform.

“Together, we will use the Plan’s principles to help direct us to our final shared destination of high-quality care, lower costs, healthy population and engaged people,” she wrote in a post with Gretchen Wyatt, senior strategy advisor in ONC’s Office of Policy, and Matthew Swain, senior strategy analyst in ONC’s Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Analysis.

The Plan includes 4 strategic goals, which are to be viewed as interdependent:

  1. Advance person-centered health and self-management
  2. Transform healthcare delivery and community health
  3. Foster research scientific knowledge, and innovation
  4. Enhance the US health IT infrastructure

ONC will measure the success of the Plan by monitoring several proxy indicators that will be reported on an annual basis:

  • Percent of office-based physicians who treat patients seen by providers outside the medical organization and who have clinical information from those outside encounters electronically available at the point of care.
  • Percent of non-federal acute care hospitals that routinely have necessary clinical information available electronically from outside providers or sources when treating a patient seen by another provider or setting.
  • Percent of individuals who experience one or more gaps in health information when seeking care.

With the Plan being linked to other national plans and initiatives related to health IT, measurement and reporting will focus largely on whether the Plan’s implementation allows those other plans to accomplish their visions, according to the report.

“Achieving health IT interoperability between the departments and private-sector providers is critical to ensuring that providers can exchange meaningful, standardized patient information and, as a result, deliver effective, person-centered care to Veterans, Service Members, and their families” said Lauren Thompson, PhD, director of the Department of Defense/Veterans Affairs Interagency Program Office.