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Blumenthal Provides Health IT Guidance ahead of 2012 Budget

Health IT coordinator David Blumenthal, Photo: hhs.gov

As skirmishes over the upcoming 2012 budget are expected to switch into high gear over the next few weeks, health IT coordinator David Blumenthal laid out the guidelines agencies must follow for health IT investments.

Blumenthal, along with federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra developed the guidelines, consisting of five key “policy and technology principles” in September, Blumenthal wrote on a Health and Human Services Department’s blog.

The principles were designed to “encourage better strategic alignment of health IT investments by guiding modernization strategies for existing systems, as well as new investment decisions,” he added.

As agencies prepare their 2012 budgets, they will have to demonstrate how their health IT investments align with the guidelines, Blumenthal said.

Agency health IT initiatives should:

  • Improve healthcare, by designing health IT systems that support clinical decision-making and measurably improve outcomes. For the fiscal year 2012 budget, agencies must demonstrate “meaningful use” of health IT – for example, electronic health records.
  • Promote open government, by sharing information with their clients or patients. For FY 2012, agencies should be able to provide clients with secure EHRs “in a format they can use and reuse.
  • Securely share health information between providers by ensuring federal health IT systems are interoperable. “In FY 2012, agencies should use standards and specifications adopted under the HITECH Act in communicating between applications and organizations,” according to the guidelines.
  • Be a “trusted steward of taxpayer dollars,” by incorporating interoperable voluntary consensus standards and terminologies. FY 2012 investments should use “common, interoperable voluntary consensus standards and terminology, as well as employ modular, flexible solutions to ensure health IT systems are built for reuse and evolution.”
  • Protect privacy and security, by aligning their health IT investments with the Fair Information Practice Principles.

The guidelines were developed with input from HHS, the Department of Agriculture, the Commerce Department, the Defense Department, Veterans Affairs, Social Security Administration and the Office of Personnel Management.

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