ONC releases draft Federal Health IT Strategic Plan

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The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology on Wednesday released a draft 2020-2025 Federal Health IT Strategic Plan for public comment.

The plan, developed by ONC in collaboration with more than 25 federal organizations, lays out the government’s goals and objectives to ensure that patients have access to their electronic health information.

“Thanks to provisions enacted by Congress, the U.S. Government is working to bring more robust health information into patients’ hands and ensure that technology and smartphone applications (apps) will help them better manage their health and enable them to shop for care,” writes National Coordinator for Health IT Don Rucker, MD, in the plan.

Rucker notes that although electronic health records have been widely adopted by healthcare providers the information captured in EHRs is often inaccessible to patients.

“With this plan, the federal government demonstrates its ongoing coordinated focus on interoperability of health information,” according to Rucker. “It emphasizes product and price transparency, allowing individuals to select the technology or app they wish to use to access their information and control its movement.”

The plan, which is meant to serve as a roadmap for federal HIT initiatives and as a catalyst for activities in the private sector, calls for coordinated investments, standards and policies for secure, standards-based application programming interfaces, as well as user-focused technologies.

“Policies promoting use of application programming interfaces (APIs), including regulations that will implement certain provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act, will drive the development of health apps that provide access to and use of data in EHRs,” states the plan.

ONC is accepting public comments on the draft plan until March 18.

“The draft federal strategic plan supports the provisions in the 21st Century Cures Act that will help to bring electronic health information into the hands of patients through smartphone applications,” adds Rucker. “We look forward to public comment to help guide the federal government’s strategy to have a more connected health system that better serves patients.”

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