ONC releases final Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020

New strategy pivots toward post-implementation era
By Mike Miliard
06:00 AM

Embracing a long-term vision for nationwide health information technology that 'puts the person at the center,' the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has finalized its strategy for the next five years.

The document represents an "action plan for federal partners, as they work to expedite high-quality, accurate, secure, and relevant electronic health information for stakeholders across the nation," writes National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo on the ONC website.

"The Plan's strategies for achieving this aim focus on making electronic information available so individuals can manage their health, providers can deliver high-quality care to their patients, public health entities and long-term services and supports can improve community health, and scientists and innovators can advance cutting-edge research and solutions."

[See also: ONC updates Health IT Strategic Plan]

Reflecting the recommendations from the Health IT Policy Committee, along with input from an array of some 35 federal partners and more than 400 public comments, the plan has four strategic goals:

  1. Advance person-centered health and self-management;
  2. Transform health care delivery and community health;
  3. Foster research, scientific knowledge and innovation; and
  4. Enhance the United States health IT infrastructure.

Speaking on a conference call announcing the plan on Monday, DeSalvo said it's one "that puts the person at the center, and seeks to get to a place where everyone has quality care that's at a lower cost, bringing a health and engaged population.

"It is a shift from our prior strategic plan in just that: It puts the person at the center, with health IT as a support," she added. "And aims to facilitate and enable the many important use cases including delivery system reform, scientific advancements such as precision medicine and improvements in public health and preparedness."

"When we released the draft plan back in December, all along the goal was to make sure information was available when and where it matters," said Gretchen Wyatt, senior strategy advisor in ONC's Office of Policy. "The idea was to make sure we look at enagement by the broader care team and for those who impact health for families and communities. The structure of the plan, we hope, reflects that."

The public said loud and clear that "we were going in the right direction, but needed to offer more examples of what health IT would be used for," she added.

That's why – unlike the draft plan, which listed "expand adoption of health IT" as its top aim – in the final plan the technology is really only the focus of goal four.

"The infrastructure is support for goals one, two and three," said Wyatt. "This is not a national plan for health, but for how health IT can improve health goals."

Read the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan: 2015-2020 here.