This week the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the quadrennial update to its strategic plan which will carry the department from 2014 to 2018. The plan describes HHS’s work to address complex, multifaceted, and evolving health and human services issues. The most recent update of the plan includes several key health IT components.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius identified several strategic initiatives under the new plan, including protecting patients’ health information and their privacy rights. Under this initiative HHS will improve both the culture and practice of using IT in a manner that advances the protection of patients’ privacy, the security of their health information, and patients’ rights to their health information. Additionally, HHS will encourage health IT vendors to incorporate easy-to-use privacy and security features into their products. HHS will continue to require, as appropriate, that electronic health records (EHRs) certified in relation to the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Records Incentives Programs have functions that facilitate health care providers’ compliance with key requirements related to federal privacy and security standards.
Another one of Secretary Sebelius’s initiatives is to foster a 21st century health workforce. This initiative will encourage the use of technology, such as telemedicine and eHealth tools, to expand resources in remote areas while addressing technological barriers to their use.
More information, and the complete HHS Strategic Plan, is available on the HHS website.