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Over the next five years, there will be a greater push to make patient health data more accessible. Among the leading goals of federal health officials is making patient information more widely available via smartphone apps.

digital data security - improving health data accessibility

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published its finalized 2020-2025 Federal Health IT Strategic Plan, spearheaded by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). Focusing on prioritizing health IT resources and streamlining health data exchange across federal agencies, the plan is goal-driven.

A Collaborative Effort

The (ONC) plan was a collective effort of over 25 federal organizations that gathered data from approximately 100 public comments. A statement issued by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma indicated that the vision of the ONC plan shared among partner agencies to utilize health IT to promote health information exchange, reduce costs, and advance patient care.

Currently serving as national coordinator for health IT, Don Rucker, MD, said “The new federal health IT strategic plan continues the momentum created by the 21st Century Cures Act and reflects the federal government’s commitment to making patients’ electronic health record (EHR) information accessible on their smartphones.”

Rucker went on to write in the plan that the digital age has made patient information access rights a priority. Patients have the right to access their health information digitally.

Major Objectives of the ONC Plan

Four goals were outlined in the plan, including:

  • Building a data-rich ecosystem to facilitate efficient research
  • Promoting general health and wellness
  • Improving the delivery of care
  • Coordinating healthcare data with health care services

In addition, the plan outlines how virtual care can be better supported and seeks to improve remote medical monitoring access outside of physical healthcare facilities. The necessary infrastructure to support telehealth and medical surveillance were also included in the strategic plan.

Highlights of the plan emphasize more widespread electronic health information as well as how federal agencies and partners can improve patient access. Additionally, Rucker’s contribution touched on how health IT has reshaped the medical field with telehealth, remote monitoring, and public health surveillance.

As the world responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rucker highlighted how critical IT-driven tools are to support the healthcare system.

The ONC plan serves as a detailed guide that can be followed by federal agencies to create health-centered initiatives as well as private sector partners in support of a strengthened healthcare system. Medical transcription companies are expected to see an increase in demand as these changes are implemented. Protecting health data is a major component of any reputable medical transcription company, so the input that these companies can provide is valuable.

Barriers to implementation were also addressed among the ONC plan goals. Specifically, the numerous regulatory and financial obstacles that have served as roadblocks for medical IT developers. Reducing or eliminating these barriers will make the market more competitive and allow more developers to improve health data transmission between health IT products. The ONC plan also stresses the importance of safety, reliability, and a user-centered experience.