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Draft Federal HIT Strategic Plan Supports Patient Access to Their Own Health Information

Public Comments Encouraged on Federal Plan

Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released the draft 2020-2025 Federal Health IT Strategic Plan for public comment. The draft plan outlines federal HIT goals and objectives to ensure that individuals have access to their electronic health information to help enable them to manage their health and shop for care. The strategic plan was developed by the HHS Office for the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) in collaboration with more than 25 federal organizations.

“The draft federal strategic plan supports the provisions in the 21st Century Cures Act that will help to bring electronic health information into the hands of patients through smartphone applications,” says Don Rucker, MD. “We look forward to public comment to help guide the federal government’s strategy to have a more connected health system that better serves patients.”

The federal agencies that helped to create the draft strategic plan regulate, purchase, develop, and use HIT to help deliver care and improve patient health. Through these efforts, stakeholders such as providers, payers, and researchers are increasingly using HIT tools and systems that can provide individual patients access to their health information, provide for tracking and managing of their health care treatments, and allow for interactions with their health care providers. These can include the use of the following:

“The Federal Health IT Strategic Plan represents the work being done, collectively and individually, to help ensure that patients and their providers can electronically access the health information they need to help them manage their care,” says Lauren Thompson, interoperability director for the Federal Electronic Health Record Modernization Program Office. “We are looking for public comment about ways to expand the use of health IT to help improve the quality of care for people, so that those currently serving in or retired from the armed forces can benefit from a great care delivery experience, along with all other Americans.”

The final 2020-2025 strategic plan will serve as a roadmap for federal agencies and drive private sector alignment. Agency officials will use it to prioritize resources, align and coordinate efforts across agencies, signal priorities to the private sector, and benchmark and assess change over time.

In today’s digital world, patients’ right to control their health must include the right to access and control of their health information. Most health care providers and health systems now use EHRs, but information captured in these systems often remains inaccessible to patients, caregivers, and health care providers across different settings. All stakeholders in the health care sector will benefit from a fully connected health system that empowers patients, caregivers, and their health care providers to securely access, exchange, and use electronic health information.

The public comment period on the draft of the 2020-2025 Federal Health IT Strategic Plan ends on March 18, 2020, at 11:59 pm ET.

— Source: Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology