Federal health IT wish list: more mobile, telehealth, analytics, open data

Health IT wish list: more mobile, telehealth, analytics, open data

The Department of Health and Human Services released an outline of how the federal government aims to expand electronic health information sharing in the next five years, in part by deploying mobile and sensor technology to extend health IT networks. 

The draft Federal Health IT Strategic Plan (2015-2020) carries on work by HHS in the last five years  to incorporate standard technologies and practices for electronic health information exchange.

In that period, hundreds of local and regional health information networks sprang up from health IT investments in more than 400,000 public and private hospitals, according to the report. The early work “created a strong demand for the seamless sharing of information across technology systems, platforms or other boundaries,” said Dr. Karen DeSalvo, national coordinator for health IT and acting assistant secretary for health with the federal government’s Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.

The ONC said it wants too respond to the demand by including “new sources of information and ways to disseminate knowledge quickly, securely and effectively. Increasingly, individuals will have the ability to contribute information through mobile apps, sensors, social media and medical devices,” said DeSalvo.

The plan's goals support that framework by building out health information networks, making health data more interoperable and opening up health networks to new technologies. Here is a summary of ONC’s five-year goals:

Expand and advance secure, interoperable health information

The 2009 financial stimulus plan accelerated the use of electronic heath records, ONC said, but gaps and remain for nationwide health IT use. To fill them, the new plan outlines the expansion of a broader set of technologies, including telehealth and mobile health information.

  • Encourage adoption of telehealth and mobile technologies among providers.
  • Expand high-speed broadband services  and encourage comparable upload and download speeds for consumers and providers.
  • Establish technical standards, technical assistance and proven practices in the development, design, purchase, tailoring and deployment of health IT.
  • Promote data portability and interoperability.

Strengthen health care delivery

Health IT can help patients actively participate in their own health care, according to the plan, allowing the nation to achieve important health care outcomes, including the prevention of diabetes and other chronic diseases. To do that, ONC plans to:

  • Incorporate telehealth and mobile health technologies within federal programs.
  • Develop automated tools for testing and validating information used in the capture and reporting health care quality information.
  • Advance multisource data integration, innovative data use agreements and open data sources to support health care collaboration.
  • Tap health IT to improve the accuracy and consistency of documentation and coding.

Advance health of individuals and communities

Besides engaging individuals in to better manage their own health, health IT can lead to faster and more efficient ways for public health departments to protect and plan for emergencies and disasters, including the ability to:

  • Enable IT products that integrate self-generated health information, self-reported outcomes and genomic information into a patient’s care records.
  • Expand the capacity for health IT and predictive analytics to assist communities in managing and preventing chronic health conditions, urgent threats and health care-associated infections.
  • Enhance standards for the unique health IT needs associated with emergency care and public health emergencies.
  • Promote health IT that incorporates evidence-based health information, logistical support, decision aids and risk calculators to providers.

Advance scientific knowledge and innovation

To support federal science and research priorities on health IT over the next five years, ONC plans to:

  • Support expanded open data releases of federal data that relates to health.
  • Promote innovation for new health IT products, including mobile applications, wearable technologies and big data computation and analytic tools.  
  • Identify methods to integrate health information securely into mobile health technologies and related social networking platforms.
  • Encourage electronic access to clinical trial data.
  • Develop solutions and guides for incorporating precision medicine and predictive modeling into care delivery.
  • Invest in methods that support distributed analytics and evidence sharing while protecting personal health information.

ONC is accepting  comments on a draft version of the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020. Public comments are due on Feb, 6, 2015. 

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