HHS backs genetics-driven, HIT-focused healthcare

HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt unveiled a new initiative on Friday which would rely heavily on advanced health IT tools to individualize and improve patient care.
Leavitt's "Personalized Health Care" program will link genetic information with traditional health records on a large scale, in an effort to predict and thereby prevent the onset of many diseases. Leavitt has said that this effort will be one of his top priorities for the next two years.

Overall, HHS agencies like the NIH, FDA and CDC will spend $277 million on personalized health care efforts this year, and should up that spending to $352 million in fiscal 2008. To boost this effort, President Bush has included $15 million in funding in his 2008 budget to create a new electronic network linking together data repositories across the U.S., Leavitt noted. To make sure these efforts don't compromise privacy efforts--or expose consumers to discrimination--HHS is beginning a comprehensive review of how the aggregation of this information will impact individual consumers. It will also work with the American Health Information Community to develop health IT standards for including genetic data in EMRs.

To learn more about how this initiative is playing out across HHS:
- read HHS's press release
- check out this United Press International item
- review the HHS overview of the program