Connect for Care

Dr. Karen B. DeSalvo | December 11, 2015

On Tuesday, I spoke at the Bipartisan Policy Center about our vision for the near future where electronic health information is unlocked and securely accessible to achieve better care, smarter spending, and healthier people.

It was inspiring to see so many of our partners in the health IT community come together to talk about a future where we have a learning, connected health care system that leverages technology just as well and just as easily as the latest apps we all have on our phones for hailing a ride or paying our bills. It’s a future where, when your mother falls and is admitted to the emergency room in Washington, D.C. when visiting for Christmas, her doctor back in Texas immediately receives an electronic notification – and another when she’s discharged or transferred. It’s a future where the connectivity and usability of health IT changes the way we pay for care by allowing us to measure and reward quality, not just quantity. And it’s a future where, with ONC’s support, we see development of FHIR-based health apps that focus on putting the person and the care experience front and center—and where something like a prototype “app store” exists as a one-stop shop for your mobile health IT needs.

To make this shared vision a reality, we will need your help. Specifically, on Monday I called on all health IT stakeholders to commit to the following:

  • Consumer Access: Help consumers easily and securely access their electronic health information, direct it to any desired location, learn how their information can be shared and used, and be assured that this information will be effectively and safely used to benefit their health and that of their community.
  • Information Blocking: Allow providers to share individuals’ health information for care with other providers and their patients whenever permitted by law, and not block electronic health information (defined as knowingly and unreasonably interfering with information sharing).
  • Standards: Implement federally recognized, national interoperability standards, policies, guidance, and practices for electronic health information, and adopt best practices including those related to privacy and security.

In order for us to live in this connected world where electronic health information most effectively supports the delivery of care, we will need our private sector partners to pledge to take concrete actions on each of these principles. If we work together, they will set us on the path to real, sustainable progress in the near term – and will allow the consumer and provider-friendly future of health IT we all seek to arrive sooner than we think.