The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology issued a report calling on the federal government effectively to continue its work in facilitating the development of a nationwide capability to exchange health information, while specifically calling for it to promote the adoption of a common language to do so, including the use of data tagging for privacy and security protection.
PCAST calls for universal exchange language
In a letter to President Barack Obama accompanying the 108-page report, Realizing the Full Potential of Health Information Technology to Improve Healthcare for Americans: The Path Forward (PDF), the council's co-chairmen, John Holdren and Eric Lander, fully endorsed the potential benefits of health IT.
The widespread use of the technology and its attendant available data will help clinicians diagnose and treat patients, help patients take better control over their health, streamline public health monitoring, enhance the ability to conduct clinical trials, pare costs and create "new high-technology markets and jobs."
To achieve these objectives, the chairmen said, PCAST has concluded "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 whole strictly ensuring patient privacy."
PCAST recommends that the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS and the CMS "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," the chairmen said.
Holdren is the assistant to the president for science and technology and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, according to his biography on the White House website. He was previously a professor of environmental policy and director of the program on science, technology and public policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and president and director of the Woods Hole Research Center. Lander is founding director of the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard and was one of the leaders of the Human Genome Project, according to his White House biography. He is a professor of biology at MIT and professor of systems biology at Harvard Medical School.
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.