The government is working on a “refresh” of the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan to advance technology beyond electronic health records. That’s the word from National Coordinator for HIT Karen DeSalvo, M.D., who spoke Monday at the opening session of the AHIMA 2014 conference in San Diego.

“That plan is one of our responsibilities laid out in the HITECH Act,” DeSalvo told the audience of health information management professionals. “The last one was developed in 2011. As you can imagine, it was more focused on the HITECH-era work of meaningful use. With our federal partners, we have been working together for the last few months to think about setting new priorities for the next five years for this country.”

The primary goal of the 2011-2015 Federal Health IT Strategic Plan was to accelerate the adoption of EHRs and to facilitate information exchange to support meaningful use. However, DeSalvo described the near-term healthcare environment as a “world where there’s going to be new data coming in, new devices, new demands, and new needs.”

As good as the meaningful use program is, she said, it’s “necessary but not sufficient,” referencing the fact that there are providers in the behavioral health, long-term and post-acute care settings that are not eligible for MU but which are “critically important for the care, quality and health outcomes of our people.”

There are other opportunities for advancing interoperability that “go well beyond meaningful use,” DeSalvo argued. “We want to really understand how human and social services and other supports in the community space can be brought to bear to really advance health for everyone in this country.”  

DeSalvo expects a new draft Federal Health IT Strategic Plan being ready this winter for public comment.

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