I’ll finish my discussion on the information sharing and knowledge management initiative resulting from the HITECH Act with some highlights from the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020 – HealthIT.gov (ONC, Office of the Secretary, 2015) released in October 2015 by the ONC. In her opening letter, Dr. Karen DeSalvo, the National Coordinator for Health IT, presented commentary on the Plan’s past, present, and future. As I wrap up my discussion, I believe her remarks provide an excellent perspective and are worth sharing. The following are highlights of her letter.
“Over the past five years, our nation has experienced a remarkable transformation in the collection, sharing, and use of electronic health information. Updating the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015- 2020 (Plan) has given us a chance to reflect on our health IT journey.”
“Implementation of the prior Plan created a strong foundation for achieving this Plan’s goals and objectives. Over 400,000 eligible hospitals and professionals participate in the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs. This incredible achievement was not easy. Hospitals and health care providers have invested capital, time, and hard work to digitize their patient medical records. This has created a strong demand for the seamless sharing of information across technology systems, information platforms, location, provider, or other boundaries.”
“With this updated Plan, the federal government signals that, while we will continue to work towards more widespread adoption of health IT, efforts will begin to include new sources of information and ways to disseminate knowledge quickly, securely, and efficiently.”
Dr. DeSalvo goes on to point out the increased expectations of our information systems and the difficulty of predicting innovation and technological advancements. In closing, she states: “Efforts of state, local and tribal governments and private stakeholders are vital to ensure that health information is accessible when and where it is needed to improve and protect people’s health and well-being.”
The Plan itself elaborates on the goals and objectives. Among the goals are the following:
Goal 1: Expand Adoption of Health IT – Digitizing health information collection allows for easier, appropriate sharing of that high-quality, accurate, and relevant information to connect care and empower individuals to manage their health and well-being.
Goal 2: Advance Secure and Interoperable Health Information – Interoperable health information and health IT solutions will lead to more efficient and effective health systems, better clinical decision support, scientific advancement, and a continuously learning health system.
Goal 5: Advance Research, Scientific Knowledge, and Innovation – Researchers can use data to identify target populations, make informed sample size estimations, recruit potential trial participants, collect more baseline data, and, within the framework of integrated health care systems or payer programs, streamline follow-up.
There you have it. Hopefully, the knowledge I’ve shared with you has provided greater insight and appreciation for health care’s tremendous transformation in information sharing and in the discovery, capture, sharing, and application of knowledge. Perhaps the next time your doctor appears engrossed in his computer, you might be a bit more understanding. With a little luck, over time doctors will get better at balancing between face to face time and focusing on the computer.
I’ll close with one final thought – Sir Francis Bacon is credited with the famous quote “Knowledge is power “. To that I would add that “if knowledge is power, knowledge management is exponential power!”
Dr Marvin Boren is the Meaningful Use Program Coordinator at Akron Children’s Hospital (Akron, OH) which has successfully attested for Stage 2 Meaningful Use. He formerly practiced podiatry in Canton, OH and has over five years of experience consulting in Electronic Health Records. He is currently working on a Master of Science degree in Health Informatics at Kent State University. He can be reached at marvboren at google.com
1. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) Department of Health and Human Services (April 10, 2015). Report to Congress on Health Information Blocking. Retrieved from https://www.healthit.gov/sites/default/files/reports/info_blocking_040915.pdf
2. EHR incentives & certification, How to attain Meaningful Use. Retrieved from https://www.healthit.gov/providers-professionals/how-attain-meaningful-use
3. How does information exchange support the goals of the HITECH Act? Retrieved from http://www.healthit.gov/policy-researchers-implementers/faqs/how-does-information-exchange-support-goals-hitech-act
4. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) Office of the Secretary, United States Department of Health and Human Services (September 21, 2015). Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020. Retrieved from: https://www.healthit.gov/sites/default/files/federal-healthIT-strategic-plan-2014.pdf