HHS draft strategic plan focuses on Meaningful Use, Health IT

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' latest draft strategic plan places a heavy emphasis on electronic health record adoption and increased electronic data sharing among providers.

HHS' strategic plan defines its mission, goals and strategies. The plan is required by federal law to be updated every four years. The draft plan for 2014-2018 outlines four general goals:

  • Goal 1: Strengthen Health Care
  • Goal 2: Advance Scientific Knowledge and Innovation
  • Goal 3: Advance the Health, Safety, and Well-Being of the American People
  • Goal 4: Ensure Efficiency, Transparency, Accountability, and Effectiveness of HHS Programs

Many of these goals, which are interrelated, involve the use of health IT. In addition, one of HHS' objectives is to improve healthcare and population health through the meaningful use of health information technology.

"The meaningful use of health information technology offers a range of potential benefits--including improved care coordination, fewer medical errors and improved healthcare quality, reduced healthcare costs, support for reformed payment structures, and improved population health. In addition, a strong health IT infrastructure can help ensure patients' privacy and safety, guide clinical decisions, and promote prevention and patient engagement," the plan states.

Several of the strategies that HHS intends to use to meet this objective include:

  • Encouraging with widespread meaningful use of EHRs through the care continuum
  • Facilitating the nationwide adoption and exchange of electronic health information
  • Encouraging standards developers and vendors to work to ensure the privacy and security of electronic health information
  • Using health IT to improve quality, safety and preventive services
  • Using health IT to support the business requirements of innovative health care delivery models, such as accountable care organizations.   

While the strategic plan's focus on Meaningful Use and other objectives, such as extending insurance to the uninsured, are not surprising, some of these goals have come under fire from Congressional leaders who oppose the initiatives or the timeframes for implementation.

Comments on the strategic plan were due Oct. 15; it is unknown if the government shutdown will cause this deadline to be extended.

To learn more:
- here's the draft strategic plan (.pdf)