HHS says 'the age of meaningful use' of health IT starts this year
Department wants widespread adoption by 2015, sets security and privacy goals
- By Alice Lipowicz
- Mar 28, 2011
The Health and Human Services Department has big plans for health IT, pushing for widespread adoption by 2015, with goals for better information sharing and improved health outcomes.
The department's 80-page Federal Health IT Strategic Plan also includes goals for giving patients access to their electronic health records and protecting the privacy and security of personal health data.
In a blog post March 25, Dr. David Blumenthal, HHS' national coordinator for health IT, published the strategic plan and asked for public comments, which are due by April 22.
Blumenthal might not be around at HHS to release the final strategic plan. In February, he announced that he would be leaving the department sometime in the spring to return to Harvard University. HHS has not named a successor.
HHS published a strategic plan for health IT that the department has updated in recent months to accommodate provisions of the economic stimulus law of 2009 and health reform law of 2010, Blumenthal wrote in his blog.
Under the stimulus law, Congress approved $20 billion to distribute to doctor's offices and hospitals that buy and meaningfully use new EHR systems. The term "meaningful use" refers to being ready to share research and public health information with regional and national health authorities. The strategic plan accounts for the grant programs, standards and regulations created by the stimulus law.
“The plan starts in 2011, the year when medical care entered a new era — the age of meaningful use,” Blumenthal wrote in his blog post. “This new era creates opportunities to transform the health care system by improving the flow of information through health IT."
The strategic plan sets five goals for health IT.
- Foster business models that create health information exchange, support the exchange of information where it is not taking place, and ensure that information exchange takes place across different business models.
- Integrate health IT adoption into the national strategy and plan being developed through the Affordable Care Act of 2010.
- Improve privacy and security of health information, and increase awareness of privacy and security among health providers and the public.
- Empower people by giving them access to their electronic health information.
- Establish a learning health system that can aggregate, analyze and apply health information across populations.
Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.