IT included in Sebelius' top priorities for HHS

Report includes health IT elements for reform, public health

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today included several health information technology elements as part of her department’s nine top strategic priorities. They are in a new report.

For example, as part of its drive to implement health reform, HHS will work to “encourage widespread adoption and meaningful use of health information technology while ensuring the privacy and security of electronic health records,” the report said.

HHS also will promote electronic health record adoption as it implements the economic stimulus law, another of the nine strategic priorities.

Sebelius outlined the nine departmental priorities and four interagency efforts in a report released today, titled “The Secretary’s Strategic Initiatives and Key Interagency Collaborations.”

Other programs that involve IT include fostering open government, improving food safety and launching a departmentwide anti-fraud program.

Under the economic stimulus law, HHS will make investments in health IT and in biomedical research and patient-centered health research. It also will track results of the economic stimulus spending and report those results to the public.

For public health, HHS released its National Health Security Strategy in January, which includes emphasis on increasing the health IT workforce; improving information sharing and situational awareness of public health emergencies; and ensuring communication between health officials and first responders.

For its priority of improving research, the report said HHS will facilitate “fast-tracking of medical innovations” through cross-agency initiatives and creating partnerships that help academic researchers more quickly turn their research into treatments.

HHS also will support patient-centered research and improve dissemination of health information to the public.

For improved food safety, the department seeks to improve data collection and analysis by working with federal, state, local and public health partners.

To implement the White House’s open-government goals, HHS has developed an open-government plan as well as two coordinating bodies, the HHS’ Innovation Council and the HHS Data Council.

The innovation council will oversee all collaborative efforts of the plan, and the data committee will oversee data collection and analysis.

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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