The draft 2015-2020 Federal Health IT Strategic Plan, which lays out the federal governments HIT priorities over the next five years, is too heavily focused on providers while giving short shrift to consumers.
That is the conclusion of the HIT Policy Committees Consumer Workgroup, which was asked to comment on the ONC-coordinated plan that was developed based on input from 35 federal agencies.
Christine Bechtel, chair of the Consumer Workgroup, said during Tuesdays meeting of the HIT Policy Committee that when it comes to the plans specific goals, strategies and objectives, the workgroup struggled with the fact that most of the consumer-oriented focus is found in objective 4A: Empower individual, family, and caregiver health management and engagement.
We felt like consumersif were person and family centeredreally needed to be part of many more objectives, Bechtel said. There are definitely some strategies sprinkled throughout where its clear that consumers play a role. But there are other strategiesfor example, increasing the adoption and use of health ITthat felt very provider-focused but we know that theres a really important consumer component to them.
The workgroup identified a gap between Goal 3 (Strengthening Healthcare Delivery), which Is heavily focused on providers, and Goal 4 (Advance the Health and Well Being of Individuals And Communities), which includes an objective focused on consumers. Bechtel asserts that there is an important bridge between these two concepts that can better align federal activities to leverage health IT in ways that achieve health outcomes that matter to individuals and families.
As a result, the workgroup recommends a new goal between Goal 3 and 4: Building a culture of individual, provider and community partnership to achieve shared health and healthcare goals. The focus of this goal would be leveraging health IT such that individuals, providers, community-based organizations and other patient supports can partner together to identify, align to and achieve patient goals.
Bechtel said the workgroup had a fairly strong reaction to the strategic plans Collect, Share, and Use framework, which is overly focused on data.
But, the ecosystem of health IT needs to have people at the center, and reallyin particularneeds to reinforce the collaborative relationships that we need to improve health and healthcare, she told the committee. And, we also felt like [the plan] needed to do a better job connecting to some of the existing health policy rubrics like the Triple Aim, which is more about improving individual health, population health, and patient experience.
Bechtel also made the case that the plan is in need of some additional health IT principles that outline what the federal government will focus on. She said that the workgroup believes there are a number of critical concepts that are missing from the plans HIT principles, namely consumer and family caregiver empowerment and equity for consumers and providers.
According to Bechtel, health equity involves reducing health disparities for consumers as well as providers that serve vulnerable populations and making sure that they are also equitably adopting and effectively using health IT. Another principle that she said the workgroup would like to see included in the plan is how we can leverage health IT to improve patient/family experience and that would include also making sure care matches up with the goals that patients and families say are important to them.
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