Regions

U.S. government releases draft plan for electronic health data

January 31
10:16 PM 2015

The Obama administration on Friday proposed a plan to move most doctors, hospitals and their patients to national standards for handling electronic clinical data by the end of 2017.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as part of an effort to propel the $2.9 trillion U.S. healthcare system away from a costly fee-for-service system, released a report draft aimed at establishing an inter operable health information technology system that can be accessed by patients and their healthcare providers.

Policy experts say that national health IT standards would lead to transparency in medical data, prices and provider performance, while helping support hospitals and medical practices in pursuing care-delivery models that emphasize care quality and savings over quantity.

Earlier this week, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced the goal of moving 50 percent of fee-for-service Medicare payments to quality-care focused providers by the end of 2018.

An industry task force has also been formed to facilitate a similar transformation for the private healthcare sector.

HHS said the new IT roadmap "focuses on actions that will enable a majority of individuals and providers across the care continuum to send, receive, find and use a common set of electronic clinical information at the nationwide level by the end of 2017."

The release was warmly received by consumer advocates who support the administration's care-delivery goals.

"We are especially pleased that the new roadmap focuses on interoperability not just among providers, but also patients and their family caregivers, recognizing them as equal partners in the continuum of care," Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, said in a statement.

The document covers core technical standards and functions, certification, privacy, security and governance. Public comment period on the draft closes April 3.

HHS released a separate advisory listing available standards and implementation specifications. Public comment on the standards advisory closes May 1.

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