Health IT Research – New Innovation Communities

As the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) carries out its mission toward a goal of nationwide achievement of meaningful use, I am mindful that we are also working toward a greater vision of improved individual and population health outcomes – a vision of a high performance learning health care system that leverages health information and technology, while protecting privacy and confidentiality, and encourages an infrastructure for robust care delivery and technology innovation.   Over the coming weeks, a number of events are being held in support of health care and technology innovation. These events are just a glimpse of the excitement and passion I am seeing take place across country, as multiple, disparate and powerful forces in the environment converge in support of improving and transforming health care.

Through my role in leading innovation programs and initiatives at ONC, I’m extremely pleased to see the steady growth of innovation communities – an essential requirement to creating sustained pathways for health technology innovation, especially in emerging fields such as data analytics and remote care management. These communities will hopefully bring together a diverse set of perspectives and backgrounds – beyond solely technologists – to include the full spectrum of stakeholders required for honest and practical discussion on the challenges of developing and adopting health technology.

In the spirit of community building around health technology innovation, ONC has launched several high-profile programs and initiatives. The Beacon Communities program will help to demonstrate the potential of advanced health IT to help achieve measurable improvement in the quality and efficiency of health services at a population level. SHARP – Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects – is an applied research program focused on achieving breakthrough advances to address well-documented problems that have impeded adoption of health IT. At a department level (HHS) and under the leadership of Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer of HHS, we are taking action to improve health by making available a broad range of data sources under the Community Health Data Initiative (CHDI). These programs, along with a host of other initiatives (clinical decision support, personal health records, mHealth, and other areas) all seek to drive community building and will help to support private sector technology development.

Sustained health IT innovation will inevitably lead to improved clinical outcomes and system efficiencies. While improving the health of the nation, innovation has the potential to lead to improved quality of life and increased patient engagement in care delivery. It represents the promise of breakthroughs in medical research. Importantly, it has the potential to create new markets, jobs, and entrepreneurial opportunities. I believe that no matter what stakeholder lens you view health innovation through, drawing from a diverse community to calibrate the focus will allow for a clearer vision of the future and pathway to success.

Wil Yu, Special Assistant, Innovations (

ONC, Office of the Chief Scientist


  1. Rachel Klein, CPS says:

    As someone who uses mental health services, I specifically do not use services at hospitals and other institutions in which Mental Health IT is integrated with Medical IT. Why? I value the privacy of information I disclose to my mental health providers. It is central to my ability to trust and work in psychotherapy on difficult and shame-ridden issues, especially traumatic events in my life. One of these traumatic events happened in an ED, where, due to systemic medical stigma, I came in for a headache and ended up retrained for 16 hours because I didn’t want to be seen in the psych ED for a headache. How did they know I had a psychiatric history when I came to the Emergency Room for treatment of a headache? HIT.

    Until physicians and other clinicians change their culture and distance themselves from stigmatizing attitudes towards those of us who have psychiatric histories, I and many other people with diagnoses will not support any integrated system of IT, unless we have direct control of who sees what information. I highly support the Bazelon Center’s recommendations on HIT. For patient-directed care to become a reality, we have to be the ones directing who sees private information, and we must be the ones deciding what is and is not private. Information is power in the medical system, and until the patient has the power, abuses due to stigma will continue. Worst of all, people who want to have help will avoid going to clinicians for “elective” mental health care and “care” will be exclusively coercive.

    Rachel A. Klein
    Coordinator, Emergency Room Rights Campaign,
    Massachusetts, USA

  2. My Homepage says:

    I admire your piece of function, regards for all of the intriguing posts.

Leave a ReplyComment Policy