May 27, 2024

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has published the 2024-2030 Federal Health IT Strategic Plan, providing a roadmap for the future. This plan envisions technology and health information significantly enhancing individual and community wellbeing. It aligns with healthcare CIOs’ core mission to use technology to engage individuals, reduce costs, deliver high-quality care, and improve population health. The plan is structured around four main goals, setting a clear direction for future healthcare IT initiatives. Is this enough to make future progress for the industry?

Promoting Health and Wellness

The strategic plan strongly emphasizes empowering individuals to manage their health, enhancing the delivery and experience of care, and accelerating research and innovation. According to the latest report from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, most US provider organizations have an electronic medical record system, which is the starting point since they all have a patient portal allowing individuals to manage their health at their fingertips.

As the healthcare industry has moved towards digitalization, achieving interoperability among different systems continues to challenge us. EMR vendors have successfully ensured interoperability within organizations that use the same systems. However, this issue has consistently been a barrier in the last strategic plan.

Enhancing Care Delivery

Enhancing the delivery and experience of care is vital as provider organizations aim to facilitate easy access to care in the digital age. Patients now expect seamless and efficient interactions with their healthcare providers through technologies like virtual care, two-way messaging, and self-service scheduling features. We aim to surpass these expectations by deploying intuitive technologies that streamline patient and provider processes, thus enhancing outcomes and satisfaction.

The plan reaffirms the commitment to using IT to promote health and wellness, recognizing technology’s role in empowering patients and communities. However, the digital divide and disparities in technology access and literacy hinder these efforts’ reach and impact. Addressing these disparities is crucial for the equitable distribution of health IT benefits and ensuring everyone has the necessary tools and knowledge for health management. There’s a significant need for health education, especially among those with poor health who require extensive care. Despite the importance of preventive care, which heavily relies on education, provider organizations currently receive limited reimbursement for such services.

Accelerating Research and Innovation

The objective emphasizes that researchers and health IT users should actively access health data to foster improvements in individual and population health. Health IT prioritizes enhancing research and analysis at both personal and population levels. Notably, including data from underrepresented groups in research efforts is a crucial strategy to actively advance health equity. This objective underlines the goal of using health IT to achieve more inclusive health improvements and research outcomes, demonstrating a commitment to leveraging technology for the betterment of all.

Connecting Health Data

This goal highlights the importance of developing policies and technology components to meet the varied data needs of health IT users, aiming to ensure that regulatory constraints, privacy concerns, and the technological limitations of current health IT infrastructures do not hinder the pace of innovation.

The 2024-2030 federal health IT strategic draft plan envisions health IT as a catalyst for significant healthcare improvements, highlighting areas needing more focus. It underscores the importance of collaboration among federal agencies, healthcare providers, technology companies, and patient advocacy groups to address these challenges. With a 60-day comment period ending on May 28, 2024, there’s an opportunity for feedback to enrich the plan with new initiatives and requirements, aiming to accelerate progress in health IT.

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