Federal Health IT Officials Outline Five-Year Plan

The Department of Health and Human Services, led by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), recently released its 2020-2025 Federal Health IT Strategic Plan for public comment.

The 28-page plan outlines goals and objectives to ensure that patients have access to their electronic health information (EHR) that allows them to, not only manage their health, but also to be able to 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 plan points out that while many other industries have embraced and advanced technology, the healthcare industry has been slower to respond.

“While individuals have access to an abundance of information and can use technology in other areas  to  interact  with  data  in  so  many  innovative  ways,  as  patients  they  cannot  access  their  health  information when and where they need it. In today’s digital world, patients’ right to control their health must  include  the  right  to  access  and  control  their  health  information,” writes Donald Rucker, MD, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology

The plan includes four main goals, each of which have specific objectives.

  • Promote health and wellness
  • Enhance the delivery and experience of care
  • Build a secure, data-driven ecosystem to accelerate research and innovation
  • Connect healthcare and health data through an interoperable health IT infrastructure

The plan is intended to serve as “a roadmap” for federal health IT initiatives and activities, and as a catalyst for activities in the private sector, according to a blog post from Health IT.

The plan points out that there is a shift to value-based care and its success is contingent on being able to access data that allows healthcare providers to better understand their patients’ needs and to be able to better communicate with them and track outcomes.

ONC notes that while electronic health records are being used by physicians, hospitals and healthcare systems, there needs to be a focus on improving interoperability for the secure exchange of this information, a concern among many industry groups. In its plan to improve individual access to health information, ONC notes that patients and caregivers must be provided resources on how to use their data safely, securely and effectively.

“Most healthcare providers and health systems now use EHRs, but information captured in these systems often remains inaccessible to patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers across different settings,” ONC writes in a press release.

ONC is asking for comments on ways to expand the use of health IT and to help improve quality of care. Commenters have until March 18.


The Health Law Offices of Anthony C. Vitale assists in ensuring that all provider types are compliant and up to date on the latest rules, regulations and developments – especially with respect to technological changes. For more information, you can contact us at 305-358-4500 or send us an email to info@vitalehealthlaw.com and let’s discuss how we might be able to assist you.


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