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ONC Finalizes Federal Health IT Strategic Plan

September 14, 2011
by David Raths
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Key goals remain, with some changes

On Sept. 12, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) published the final Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2011 – 2015. At the Sept. 14 Health IT Policy Committee meting, Jodi Daniel, director of ONC’s Office of Policy and Planning, described some of the changes made based on 240 public comments since the plan was first unveiled in March 2011.

First, Daniel noted that ONC would like the Strategic Plan to be something of a “living document” that can be updated based on experience with stage one of meaningful use.

Although the final plan looks very much like the draft with the same five key goals, Daniel said that comments led to changes in a few areas.

For instance, she said, many of the comments were on the need for a federal-level policy about patient consent for participation in health information exchange. In response, HHS has commissioned an inter-division workgroup, led by ONC Chief Privacy Officer Joy Pritts, to develop an updated approach to privacy and security policies.

In a blog posting on the ONC web site, Daniel wrote that one of the major areas being addressed through this process is pursuing policy changes that would afford individuals more meaningful choice as to whether their information may be exchanged electronically. “ONC is also assessing technical solutions that could support more granular patient choice and data segmentation that could support a patient’s choice to share only certain parts of their record during information exchange,” she wrote.

Other comments focused on improved usability of EHRs. ONC is supporting National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) research to refine EHR usability testing and use protocols targeted at improving safety and efficiency. ONC intends to explore ways to improve the ability of providers to change EHR products to better support their needs by improving data portability. Reducing the cost associated with switching EHR products while increasing data fluidity and choice can help drive market competition to improve the usability of EHR products, Daniels wrote.

The full text of the Strategic Plan is available at: http://healthit.hhs.gov/strategicplan.

 

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