National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo wants to see changes made to the Health IT Policy Committee's current "somewhat siloed" workgroup structure. In a meeting last week of the HIT Policy Committee, DeSalvo called for fewer workgroups but expansion of their scopes so that they are more "strategic and forward-thinking" with the restructuring slated to begin in May for a couple of the workgroups and the rest of the transition continuing this summer. 

The HIT Policy Committee workgroups meet periodically to address important policy questions, present findings at committee meetings, and make recommendations to the committee. The workgroups that DeSalvo has proposed include: HIT Strategic Planning; Advanced Health Models and Meaningful Use; HIT Implementation, Usability and Safety; and Interoperability and Health Information Exchange. She said the privacy/security and consumer workgroups will continue in a "matrix conversation" with the other workgroups.

"It's really important that we enhance not just the form but also the communication of all these workgroups within the Policy Committee, and then with standards and ONC, so that we are reducing redundancy and potential for reactive work," said DeSalvo, who emphasized that her proposed workgroup structure would require further refinement.

In addition, she said that another ONC priority is to have the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan drafted by July, with public comment to follow, and the goal of having the plan finalized by the end of 2014.

“This actually is a nice step-back point,” commented Paul Tang, vice chair of the HIT Policy Committee. “Now that we’re finished wrapping up--in at least 2014--our comments and advice on Stage 3, I think we'll be looking a lot towards [the question]: are we getting the value out of it that we need?”

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