Pulling Forward the Benefits of Healthcare IT

Today, the Health IT Standards Committee within the Department of Health and Human Services will begin an unprecedented effort to get the public’s view on how our work might "pull forward" the benefits of healthcare information technology (IT).  Specifically, we’re interested in uncovering new strategies to accelerate the adoption of health IT standards.  This effort began with the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, calling for recommendations on standards to promote safe, secure, healthcare information exchange.

“Standards” are really the guardians of quality, consistency, and interoperability.  Without thoughtful, clear and uniform standards, we cannot enable the seamless and secure exchange of electronic health information (or the benefits that accrue to providers and patients from such protected exchanges).

So, while the exploration of technical standards may seem mundane to some, it is foundational to electronic health records (EHRs) and electronic health information exchange more broadly.  In other words, it’s worth paying some attention to, and voicing your opinions.

Our process continues with a public hearing today in Washington, DC. Find out how to participate via phone and webcast here. We are convening four panels of experts with on-the-ground experience in interoperability standards - providers, quality stakeholders, health IT vendors, and a group with lessons drawn outside of healthcare. Thanks to HIT Standards Committee member Judy Murphy for her leadership on this effort.

The public hearing draws to a close this afternoon but we will continue the conversation through an Online Forum over the next two weeks.  Thanks to Committee Member Cris Ross for his leadership on this effort.  Given the breadth of interests, we have arranged a series of Committee Member blog posts to begin the dialogue, starting with HIT Standards Committee Vice-Chair John Halamka's summary of our work to date, which will post on Friday.  We will concurrently enable ongoing discussion threads on the following topics:

  1. Proposed Standards (General Discussion)
  2. Interoperability
  3. Vocabularies
  4. Privacy
  5. Security
  6. Quality
  7. Implementation Case Studies (Your Story - the good, bad and
    in-between)

We have also enabled a "voting" feature on submissions to allow you - the public - an opportunity to emphasize points raised in a given post. Our goal is to harness the shared wisdom of our community to inform the work of the HIT Standards Committee in the weeks and months ahead.

The tight schedule of this process is designed to ensure that your ideas inform the HIT Standards Committee at its November 19th meeting.  However, your ongoing feedback on our efforts is also encouraged via written submission or public comment at any of the subsequent monthly meetings of the HIT Standards Committee.

The process of accelerating the adoption of health IT standards will not end this week, this month, or this year. This is an ongoing effort, and your participation will continue to be essential to its success.

Aneesh Chopra is U.S. Chief Technology Officer

Related Topics: Health Care, Technology
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