Federal Health IT Strategic Plan: 2015 - 2020

Prepared by:
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC)
Office of the Secretary, United States Department of Health and Human Services

Letter from the National Coordinator

Over the past five years, our nation's health information technology (health IT) landscape has experienced a remarkable transformation. Developing the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020 (Plan) has given us a chance to reflect on our collective health IT journey. When we released the prior Plan in 2011, non-federal adoption of health IT was in its nascent stages, Affordable Care Act implementation was commencing, and the use of mobile health applications, especially by consumers, was far from ubiquitous. Read More

Implementation of the prior Plan created a strong foundation for achieving this Plan's goals and objectives. Over 450,000 eligible professionals and 4,800 eligible hospitals received an incentive payment for participation 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 convert their patient medical records from paper systems to EHRs, and to adapt workflow and culture to deliver care in this electronic environment. This has created a strong demand for the seamless sharing of information across technology systems, information platforms, location, provider, or other boundaries.

This Plan aims to remain flexible to evolving definitions of health, health care, and the technology developments that support them. We recognize that both clinical health care and other sources will generate valuable health information. Expectations for our information systems and for their users will increase. During the past decade's information age, innovation and technological advancements have been difficult to predict. This Plan accounts for how the federal government views our nation's current health IT landscape and articulates federal values and priorities and it also identifies government actions that we believe will be most impactful as we look to the future.

I am incredibly grateful for the participation of over thirty-five federal entities that worked in concert to develop this Plan. They demonstrate the extensive interest across the government to digitize the health experience for all individuals and facilitate the progress towards a learning health system that can improve health and care. I also especially appreciate the Health IT Policy Committee for providing us with recommendations that informed this final Plan, and to the hundreds of individuals and diverse stakeholders that offered input during our public comment period. The strong public interest validates the critical importance of our mission.

With this Plan, the federal government signals that, while we will continue to work towards widespread use of all forms of health IT, efforts will begin to include new sources of information and ways to disseminate knowledge quickly, securely, and efficiently. This Plan will help guide the nation's shift towards focusing on better health and delivery system reform. Federal authorities and investments will seek to implement this Plan's strategies. However, this is a shared undertaking. Efforts of state, territorial, local, and tribal governments, and of private stakeholders are vital to ensure that health information is available when and where it matters most to improve and protect people's health and well-being.

Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc
National Coordinator for Health Information Technology

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