HHS' new strategic plan emphasizes health IT

Draft plan sets goals for 2010 to 2015

The Health and Human Services Department is emphasizing adoption of health information technology and the fostering of innovation among its objectives for its new Draft Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2010-2015.

The strategy outlines three major goals: transforming the health care system, advancing knowledge and improving health. Within each goal, there are several objectives and specific projects.

For example, to help foster innovation, the department intends to develop and deliver “computerized geography-based inventories of patient care services” to help patients determine what services are available at each site and how far they need to travel to nearby sites.

The plan describes health IT adoption as being at the heart of efforts to transform health care through the use of data to improve the quality of care, reduce costs and paperwork, expand access to care, improve public health, and support reformed payment structures. Under the economic stimulus law, $20 billion was made available to providers and agencies to motivate them to adopt the technology.

The plan states that HHS is developing performance benchmarks for measuring success in its health IT efforts.


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Additional strategies to encourage adoption include:

  • Endorsing consumer access to health information.
  • Ensuring the privacy and security of health information.
  • Encouraging policies, standards and services to enable appropriate re-use of health information for quality, public health and research.
  • Enhancing public awareness of the value of health IT.

To advance innovation, HHS will also continue to draw on innovative technologies such as Web 2.0 to collaborate and develop solutions, the plan states.

“These innovations include engaging Web 2.0 technologies with several functional capabilities, including blogging to rate and rank ideas and priorities, crowdsourcing to identify public opinion and preferences, group collaboration tools such as file-sharing services, idea-generation tools, mobile technologies such as text messaging, and online competitions,” the plan states.

The department also intends to establish a community of practice for expanding transparency, add to the functionality of personal health records and draw on HHS employees for their insights and ideas.

HHS published the 114-page draft strategy on its Web site and set a deadline of Aug. 14 for public comments. As of today, 34 comments had been posted.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Sun, Aug 22, 2010 Van G. Coble Dph, CDM, FASCP Winfield, KS

As a pharmacist, health info has been transmitted on a regular basis for claims processing for well over 20 years. Most pharmacies have been computerized for more than 25 years. With these statements, we still do not have everything right. This is a major undertaking, and I am not sure that everyone grasps how challenging this endeavor will be. The biggest challenge as I view it will be interfacing all the various systems used by individual health care providers. Another challenge will be getting all providers to buy into the exchange of health information. Everyone, must buy into the system. Last, but surely not least is the security of the overall system. I feel fairly secure with my operating system since it is not based on the Windows OS.

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