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Federal health IT workgroup focuses on patient engagement

WASHINGTON – Patient engagement should be a critical piece of the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan, public comment on a draft indicates.

The Strategic Plan Workgroup of the federal Health IT Policy Committee discussed the feedback on the draft plan at a meeting Tuesday. The workgroup will consider the feedback as it prepares its final draft to present at the April 21 meeting of the full committee.

The workgroup, with input from the full policy committee and the public, has produced a draft framework, which focuses on the goals, principles, objectives, and strategies related to four key areas:

  • Learning health system
  • Meaningful use of health IT
  • Privacy and security
  • Policy and technical infrastructure

Many of the public's comments focused on the patient's role in his or her own care and how information technology might assist patients in engagement. Increasing the engagement of patients and caregivers is a meaningful use milestone, said Paul Tang, MD, vice chairman of the Health IT Policy Committee and chairman of Strategic Plan Workgroup.

"[EHR adoption] is a people issue not necessarily just technology…" commented Carl Ahmed, on the Federal Advisory Committee blog. "People don't want to change their behavior. Eighty percent of the ONC effort should be on this and 20 percent on everything else ONC has proposed so far."

The idea of finding "proper ways" for patients to be engaged in their healthcare is the subject of demonstration projects and target of new research including the recent Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects (SHARP) awards, said presenter Patricia Flatley Brennan, national program director of Project HealthDesign, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded initiative designed to stimulate the next generation of personal health records.

There is a need for increasing consumers' education to help patients understand their role in their care and how to access credible information to help them weigh credibility so that they can be "first class" participants in their own healthcare, Tang said.

"We are moving to a time of culture of change where health is more than healthcare… Tools are only as productive as the people who use them," commented Lavinia Weissman on the committee's blog. "HIT has a population and diversity of users that is overwhelming and to widely gain knowledge from many different populations I think we need to start small to move fast rapidly for broad distribution."

One caller at Tuesday's meeting suggested that the definition of meaningful use should be expanded beyond the systems that promote EHRs and look at the devices that help populate, capture and derive the data. He said that focusing solely on EHRS "perpetuates manual data entry."

Tang said the panel may look at the use of such devices in more depth at the April 21 meeting.

Added Tuesday, April 6th, 2010 by Healthcare IT News

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  • Health IT
  • Heath Disparity