- On Monday morning, the Office for the National Coordinator of Health IT unveiled the updated Federal Health IT Strategic Plan for the years 2015 through 2020. The plan makes clear the administration's health IT priorities for the coming five years.
- The five-goal plan focuses on data collection and security as well as interoperability, perhaps the biggest concern of most health data professionals.
- According to a statement from National Coordinator Karen DeSalvo, "The first two goals of this Plan prioritize increasing the electronic collection and sharing of health information while protecting individual privacy. The final three goals focus on federal efforts to create an environment where interoperable information is used by health care providers, public health entities, researchers, and individuals to improve health, health care, and reduce costs."
How the new plan addresses interoperability will be perhaps its biggest challenge. Although many providers now have some form of medical records systems in their organizations, studies have found that fewer than half of US hospitals can transmit a patient care document, according to a report in the New York Times. Only 14% of physicians can exchange data with other providers. And not surprisingly, no one appears to be taking responsibility for the lack of interoperability. Epic Systems, one of the nation's largest vendors, has been accused of purposefully creating walls so other systems can't get in. The company claims that many of their providers are able to share information. Judy Faulkner, Epic's founder, told the New York Times that regulators, who have said that stakeholders all need to come together to work on the issue, haven't proven to be of much help.
To that end, the second goal of the new plan is to "advance secure and interoperable health information." The agency is currently developing a shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap, with which this goal will "align closely." According to the ONC document, "Interoperability is a crosscutting component of this Plan, and implementation of the Roadmap will be necessary to advance the Plan's goals."