By 2024, individuals, care providers, communities and researchers should have an array of interoperable health IT products and services that allow the health care system to continuously learn and advance the goal of improved health care, according to a report from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).
One of the near-term priorities involves improving the interoperability of existing health information networks, and scaling existing approaches for fluidly exchanging health information across vendor platforms to support a broad array of transitions of care and public health.
This year, the ONC will build on its existing governance framework and principles to ensure individual access, privacy, transparency, responsible financial and business practices, and use of federal standards to support health information exchange.
As needed, the ONC will identify the “rules of the road” necessary for information to flow efficiently across networks and will transition to a governance approach for health information exchange that will likely involve both policy and collaboration across industry, government and consumer representatives.
Already, more than one-half of office-based professionals and more than eight in 10 hospitals are meaningfully using electronic health records (EHRs), which will require them to electronically exchange standardized patient information to support safe care transitions.
In addition, one-half of hospitals are able to electronically search for patient information from sources beyond their organization or health system, and all 50 states have some form of health information exchange services available to support care.
Technological innovations such as wearable devices, remote sensing devices and tele health support at-home and virtual care models and new roles for patients.
Through the Blue Button Initiative, more than half of individual consumers and patients are able to access at least some of their own health information electronically through the combined contributions of providers, health plans, pharmacies and labs.
All of the advancements mean there is a growing demand for interoperability that not only supports the care continuum, but supports health generally.
Electronic health information needs to be available for appropriate use in solving major challenges such as providing more effective care and informing and accelerating scientific research, the report stated.
The ONC is planning to work with all stakeholders to fine-tune and use the health IT infrastructure enabled through implementation of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act to support the transformation of health care to a more patient-centered, less wasteful and higher quality system.
The organization is also seeking to promote competition among network service providers in a way that avoids providers or individuals being locked in to one mechanism to exchange health information, limiting their ability to share health information and coordinate care efficiently.