Federal Health IT Strategic Plan Supports Patient Access to Their Own Health Information

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published the final 2020-2025 Federal Health IT Strategic Plan (the Plan). The Plan outlines federal health information technology (health IT) goals and objectives, with a focus on individuals’ access to their electronic health information.

The Plan was developed by the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) in collaboration with more than 25 federal organizations and informed by nearly 100 public comments. The Plan is updated in accordance with the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act; ONC issued the final 2015-2020 Federal Health IT Strategic Plan in September, 2015.

“The new federal health IT strategic plan continues the momentum created by the 21st Century Cures Act and reflects the federal government’s commitment to making patients’ electronic health information accessible on their smartphones,” said Don Rucker, M.D, national coordinator for health IT. “Thank you to everyone who commented on the draft plan, your input helped us shape a final version that lays out coordinated actions across the federal government.”

The federal agencies that collaborated on the Plan regulate, purchase, develop, and use health IT to help deliver care and improve patient health. They fund and contribute to health IT research, development, and deployment at the local, tribal, state, and national level. Federal agencies also facilitate coordination across the public and private sectors to align standards, promote innovation and competition, and share best practices. Because of those activities, the Plan can serve as a roadmap for these initiatives and activities, and as a catalyst for complementary activities in the private sector.

“CMS appreciates the importance of this Federal Health IT Strategic Plan,” said Seema Verma, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “We value it as an example of our shared Federal vision to leverage health IT to reduce burden, promote the interoperable exchange of health information across the health care system, lower costs, and ultimately improve patient care.”

“The plan has been instrumental in our own efforts to support high-quality healthcare for Service members, Veterans, and their families,” said Lauren Thompson, Ph.D., director of federal and commercial interoperability for the Federal Electronic Health Record Modernization program office. “We use it as a main reference point to develop the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs Interoperability Modernization Strategy, ensuring DOD and VA are supporting the common goals of the government’s federal health IT strategy.”

The Plan defines a set of goals, objectives, and strategies the federal government will pursue to support the access, exchange, and use of electronic health information. The key principles outlined in the Plan include:

  • Putting individuals first by focusing on person-centered care,
  • Focusing on value by promoting and pursuing activities that improve health and care quality,
  • Building a culture of secure access to health information,
  • Putting research into action,
  • Encouraging innovation and competition, and
  • Being a responsible steward by developing health IT policies through open, transparent, and accountable processes.