AHCA/NCAL Submits Comments on Federal Health IT Strategic Plan

AHCA/NCAL Updates; Health Information Technology

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology (ONC) earlier this year issued a draft for public comment of the Agency’s Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2024-2030. The new plan builds upon current technology approaches to advancing interoperability of Heath IT and adds emphasis in areas such as public health, health equity, and artificial intelligence (AI). 

Last month, AHCA/NCAL submitted comments requesting the Agency to assure that the needs of nursing facilities and assisted living communities providing health care are incorporated into the strategy to best assure seamless and high-quality care for patients and residents wherever they receive care in the healthcare ecosystem. AHCA/NCAL also contributed to and signed onto a more extensive Long Term-Post Acute Care (LTPAC) Health IT Collaborative comment letter that addressed the concerns and potential solutions that would benefit persons receiving healthcare in all post-acute care settings. 

Both comment letters emphasize that the goals reflected in the proposed strategic plan continues to reach only limited sectors of the healthcare system that received incentives under the Health Information Technology for Economic & Clinical Health (HITECH) Act and participate in the current Promoting Interoperability Program. This ongoing focus perpetuates the interoperability silos and widens the interoperability gap between those who received funding and post-acute and other providers who did not. This includes a collaborative recommendation that “funding dedicated to agencies be distributed equitably and be inclusive of the LTPAC sector to help advance interoperability and the goals of the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan.” 

Key AHCA/NCAL comment letter recommendations included: 

  • AHCA/NCAL strongly recommends that the ONC and other federal agencies reevaluate the parameters used to advance health IT adoption beyond the four walls of hospitals and physicians’ offices. 
  • AHCA/NCAL requests that the ONC increases the prioritization of LTPAC interoperability advancement as a critical pillar of the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan Framework to assure the vision of the plan can be realized. 
  • AHCA/NCAL recommends that the ONC expand cybersecurity education targeted at healthcare providers and consumers. 
  • AHCA/NCAL recommends that the ONC leverage its vital role as coordinator – and as convener – to ensure that federal policies (and where possible, state policies affecting health IT) are harmonized. 

Key discussion areas in the LTPAC Health IT Collaborative comment letter focused on the four ONC strategic plan goals and associated objectives: 

  • Promote Health and Wellness 
  • Enhance the Delivery and Experience of Care 
  • Accelerate Research and Innovation 
  • Connect the Health System with Health Data  

More information on the LTPAC Health IT Collaborative can be found here. Contact Dan Ciolek at dciolek@ahca.org​ for questions related to AHCA/NCAL health IT activities.