ONC Publishes Final Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020

Dr. Karen B. DeSalvo; Gretchen Wyatt and Matthew Swain | September 21, 2015

Most people that use GPS navigation apps aren’t concerned with the backend development, the standards used, or whether the app is interoperable with other data sources – people just want to arrive at their destination quickly and safely. Similarly, when faced with critical health care choices, having the information and tools to help individuals, providers, and communities safely arrive at their health destinations should be as efficient and accessible as a GPS. Health information technology (IT) is the key to getting us where we want to go – allowing for seamless use of information and technology to overcome challenges and make decisions.

One pathway to help us achieve those goals is the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015 – 2020, which was issued today. This Plan outlines the commitments of all the agencies that use or influence the use of health IT across the nation for the next five years. The Plan is an action plan for federal partners, as they work to expedite high-quality, accurate, secure, and relevant electronic health information for stakeholders across the nation. The Plan’s strategies for achieving this aim focus on making electronic information available so individuals can manage their health, providers can deliver high-quality care to their patients, public health entities and long-term services and supports can improve community health, and scientists and innovators can advance cutting-edge research and solutions.

We released a draft Plan in December 2014 for public comment and received thoughtful feedback from over 400 individuals and organizations, including their suggestions about how best to achieve the seamless flow of health information. The Health IT Policy Committee gave us valuable recommendations, and the nearly two dozen listening sessions with stakeholders last year let us know what matters most to people managing and utilizing information and technology.

The final Federal Health IT Strategic Plan reflects commenters’ recommendations that federal efforts, including government programs and policies, assist stakeholders as they use electronic information to improve health and support innovations that make health, care delivery, and research more effective. The Plan is a broad document that condenses the detailed work and strategic direction of many federal initiatives and plans. Its strategies and objectives support the use of health IT to accomplish these ongoing initiatives, such as precision medicine and delivery system reform.

With the release of the Plan, we now turn our attention toward achieving the Plan’s goals, while following the principles that guide our core vision. Where the Plan has a broad scope, its implementation has a singular focus: improving the health and well-being of this nation through responsive, collective engagement on health IT and information use.

We will continue to work with stakeholders to evaluate progress as the health IT infrastructure advances and new health, information, and technology needs arise. This engagement will help us prioritize health IT efforts and identify strategic gaps, and will help stakeholders better understand the federal intent of various policies and actions. 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.

To read the final Plan, please visit: http://www.healthit.gov/policy-researchers-implementers/health-it-strategic-planning