AAFP Weighs In on ONC’s Health IT Strategic Plan for 2015-2020

January 21, 2015 in News

Last week, the American Academy of Family Physicians in a letter commended the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s Federal Health IT Strategic Plan for 2015 to 2020 and offered several suggestions for improving the plan, Healthcare IT News reports (Monegain, Healthcare IT News, 1/20).

Background

The Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020, which will serve as a strategy for the federal government, was the result of input from about 35 federal entities.

The five goals in the plan are:

  • Advance innovation and research by increasing access and use of high-quality electronic health data and services, fostering the development and commercialization of innovative products;
  • Advance secure and interoperable health data by enabling individuals to securely receive, send and use such data, and take steps to keep those data secure through technical standards;
  • Further the adoption of health IT, while increasing user and market confidence in the safety of such products and fostering a national communications framework to support care delivery, health and safety;
  • Improve individuals’ and communities’ health and well-being by promoting health engagement; and
  • Strengthen the delivery of health care (iHealthBeat, 12/8/14).

ONC is accepting comments on the plan through Feb. 6 (Murphy, EHR Intelligence, 1/20).

Details of AAFP Letter

In the letter, AAFP Board Chair Reid Blackwelder wrote that his group “strongly support[s] the vision and mission stated in the” strategic plan (Blackwelder, AAFP letter, 1/15). He added, “This strategic plan provides a blueprint to move forward, and we must now define and implement its tactics.”

Blackwelder wrote, “From the perspective of a practice, the myriad of regulations and rules from multiple agencies places a heavy administrative burden (on physicians). As efforts across agencies can be harmonized and, where possible, combined, it could significantly decrease this burden on practices” (Healthcare IT News, 1/20).

Recommendations

Blackwelder in the letter urged ONC to add short-term goals of one to three years in order to “continue the momentum” of currently successful work by ONC, such as the development of interoperable and secure health information exchange using the Direct standard (EHR Intelligence, 1/20).

Blackwelder also expressed concern that “[g]iven the breadth and depth of the work that could be initiated around health IT … resources may be spread so thin that no significant achievements are made toward the goals laid out in the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan” (Walsh, Clinical Innovation Technology, 1/20).

AAFP urged ONC to focus on three “key capabilities … for the near term”:

  • Care coordination;
  • Patient engagement; and
  • Population health management (AAFP letter, 1/15).

Blackwelder noted that AAFP also is developing a 10-year strategic plan for health IT, adding that “top of mind” issues for family physicians are interoperability and usability of health IT (Healthcare IT News, 1/20).

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