The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) issued its latest version of a Health IT Strategic Plan last week, expanding it significantly over the plan released last year.

This year’s plan, which covers goals to be accomplished between 2015 and 2020, is a result of ONC’s collaboration with 35 Federal partners, according to a statement from ONC.

The plan represents “the collective strategy of Federal offices that use or influence the use of health information technology (health IT),” ONC officials said. It sets a blueprint for other Federal agencies that may also be involved with developing or securing health IT infrastructure.

“Health IT only achieves its full potential when it seamlessly supports individuals as they strive to take control of their own health,” said National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo, MD. DeSalvo also said the plan should help to drive public-private partnership to achieve interoperability.

In addition to input from other Federal agencies, ONC used more than 400 public comments and recommendations from the Health IT Policy Committee to make this latest strategic plan. ONC leadership also incorporated thoughts from individuals, providers, community organizations, and entrepreneurs from across the U.S., gathered during listening sessions held in 2014.

The plan sets goals to:

  • Advance person-centered health and self-management;
  • Transform healthcare delivery and community health;
  • Foster research, scientific knowledge and innovation; and
  • Enhance the U.S. health IT infrastructure.

Over the next five years, the plan’s Federal partners will assess their individual and collective progress toward achieving the plan’s goals, including progress on the Department of Health and Human Services’ Delivery System Reform Initiative.

Lauren Thompson, director of the Department of Defense/Veterans Affairs Interagency Program Office (IPO) acknowledged that achieving health IT interoperability between the DoD, the VA and the private sector is a top priority. “The IPO is committed to pursuing the strategies in the plan through efforts to facilitate knowledge sharing, mature data standards, and interoperability,” she said in the ONC release.

Thompson’s comments come as the DoD and the VA continue to face pressure to fully accomplish interoperability between the agencies’ mutual electronic health records for veterans. A report by the Government Accountability Office last month came down on those agencies for failing to set up metrics for evaluating progress toward interoperability.

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Diana Manos