ONC releases final plan for health IT through 2020

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The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT released its final plan Monday for the nation’s development of health IT over the next five years.

The Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020 lays out how ONC and other federal agencies plan to use IT to promote health care and wellness in the coming years, particularly thorough the promotion of interoperable electronic health records.

While IT is the focus of the extensive plan, quality health care is the end goal, wrote Karen DeSalvo, national coordinator for health IT, said in an ONC blog post after the plan’s release.

“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,” DeSalvo said in the post, which was cowritten by Gretchen Wyatt, a senior strategy adviser, and Matthew Swain, a senior strategy analyst.

DeSalvo and her colleagues added, “Where the Plan has a broad scope, it’s implementation has a singular focus: improving the health and well-being of this nation through responsive, collective engagement on health IT and information use.”

This latest document will continue to build on a prior plan from 2011, which focused on setting the foundation for the nation’s health IT infrastructure, fostering and encouraging the use of EHRs by hospitals and health care providers.

“This was our opportunity to work with our federal partners and think about a future agenda in which we’re working to improve health well beyond what the health care system can do,” DeSalvo said in December when the draft of the plan was released.

This plan’s scope extends beyond electronic health records, said Seth Sazinski, director of ONC’s Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Analysis.

“One of the key points from a strategic emphasis was about broadening our focus with the plan. So this meant more of a focus on health, including health care, as well as from a technology standpoint looking beyond EHRs to other types of health IT and things like telehealth,” Sazinski said.

Before arriving at the final strategic plan, ONC received feedback from more than 400 people and organizations. The executive summary explains that despite being called the “final” strategic plan, ONC and the federal government will make adjustments if needed, continuing to engage key stakeholders to ensure the nation can take advantage of the developing health IT infrastructure.

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Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Departments, Health IT, Karen DeSalvo, Tech
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