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President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, Realizing the Full Potential of Health Information Technology to Improve Healthcare for Americans: The Path Forward (Dec. 2010) (full-text).


his report examines how health information technology could improve the quality of healthcare and reduce its cost, and whether existing federal efforts in health information technology are optimized for these goals.

PCAST has concluded that information technology can help catalyze a number of important benefits including improved access to patient data, which can help clinicians as they diagnose and treat patients and patients themselves as they strive to take more control over their health; streamlined monitoring of public health patterns and trends; an enhanced ability to conduct clinical trials of new diagnostic methods and treatments; and the creation of new high­technology markets and jobs. Health information technology can also help support a range of healthcare­related economic reforms needed to address our Nation’s long­term fiscal challenges.

PCAST has also concluded that to achieve these objectives it is crucial that the Federal Government facilitate the nationwide adoption of a universal exchange language for healthcare information and a digital infrastructure for locating patient records while strictly ensuring patient privacy. More specifically, PCAST recommends that the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services develop guidelines to spur adoption of such a language and to facilitate a transition from traditional electronic health records to the use of healthcare data tagged with privacy and security specifications.

It calls upon the federal government to facilitate the widespread adoption of a "universal exchange language" that allows for the transfer of relevant pieces of health data while maximizing privacy. Reflecting input from industry and IT experts, privacy groups, healthcare professionals, and others, the report provides specific recommendations for cultivating an information technology (IT) ecosystem that facilitates the real-time exchange of patient information in order to modernize diagnosis and treatment, improve public health, enhance the privacy and security of personal data, and create new high-technology markets and jobs while catalyzing healthcare-related economic reforms needed to address the U.S.’s long-term fiscal challenges.