Contact Us

What the Final Federal Health IT Goals Mean for Your Organization

September 30, 2015 // Kartheek Koneru

After coordinating and leveraging over 35 different federal agencies in the development of vision, goals, and strategies, the ONC released the final Federal Health IT strategic plan for 2015-2020. It is arguable that the most significant addition to this plan came between December 2014 and February 2015 when ONC accepted comments from a wide variety of healthcare stakeholders. These comments led to a shift in focus from “data” and “systems” to a demonstration of how various stakeholders can work together and be supported by an integrated healthcare infrastructure.

Strategic Plan Goals and Tracking

The Federal Health IT strategic plan has four goals:

  • Advance person-centered and self-managed health
  • Transform healthcare delivery and community health
  • Foster research, scientific knowledge, and innovation
  • Enhance the nation’s health IT infrastructure

The progress across the four goals is to be measured through the following proxy indicators:

  • Percent of office-based physicians that treat patients seen by providers outside medical organization that have clinical information from those outside encounters electronically available at the point of care (Data Source: National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) National EHR Survey)
  • Percent of non-federal acute care hospitals that routinely have necessary clinical information available electronically from outside providers or sources when treating a patient seen by another health care provider or setting (Data Source: American Hospital Association’s Annual Survey Information Technology Supplement)
  • Percent of individuals who experienced one or more gaps in health information when seeking care (Data Source: ONC Consumer Survey of Attitudes Toward the Privacy and Security Aspects of Electronic Health Records and Health Information Exchange)

Waiting on the Tipping Point

One of the challenges with the transition to value-based care or population health management is that we have not reached the tipping point across (1) technology convergence & interoperability and (2) stakeholder engagement level, both of which are inter-dependent. The movement toward this tipping point is often driven by federal incentives, technology innovations, progressive leadership, and organizations that are willing and, more importantly, capable of taking risks. It is through these risks that various approaches, models, and technologies get weeded out and ultimately provides the rest of the industry a rough blueprint to follow. The pitfall of waiting for the blueprint to emerge, depending on the market, is the potential of losing competitiveness.

Remaining Competitive in the Face of Disruptions

The article, “The Inevitable Disruption of Healthcare,” addresses some steps on surviving disruptions.  Here is one of the ways it recommends thinking about a couple of issues highlighted in the Federal Health IT goals.

Every organization should have a strategy for, or at the minimum have a clear understanding of, their position relative to the evolving trends:

1. The role of the consumer/patient:

  • Is there an overall patient engagement strategy?
  • What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats?
  • What technologies and federal initiatives should you be tracking and participating in, given your strategy and risk profile?
  • What are your dependencies and barriers in advancing this at a much faster rate within your organization?

2. Interoperability and analytics:

  • Is there an overall interoperability and analytics strategy in place that can support the relevant clinical, patient engagement, or reimbursement model goals?
  • Do you have a thorough understanding of where you lie on the continuum of interoperability and analytics?
  • What role do you want to play in this area: leader or competitive organization in the fringes?
  • What are your dependencies and barriers in advancing this at a much faster rate within your organization?

The Bottom Line

The health IT goals and proxy measures offer a framework for organizations to leverage and incorporate into their own planning to either:

    • Be the organization that moves the rest of the industry toward the tipping point, or
    • Remain on the fringes, yet be competitive enough when the time comes.

The question is, where will your organization stand when the time comes to face the impending disruptions?