Identifying useful health informationSkip to issue
§1. What health info matters to consumers and providers?
As health IT makes health information more accessible, an emerging issue is how to identify what kinds of information would be:
- most useful for patients to get, understand and track; and/or
- most relevant to providers in shared clinical decisionmaking and making care plans.
Working together, providers and consumers can determine what types of information (such as blood pressure readings) are critical to track at home as well as in office visits. They can also decide how frequently data collected outside the office shoulds be sent to the provider. And they can work together to help patients (i) better understand clinical information and consumer eHealth tools and (ii) develop confidence in using these resources to make decisions about their health and health care.
Specifically, consumers could:
- Use eHealth tools (e.g., fitness trackers, mobile applications, text messaging reminders) and information gathered from these tools to stay well and manage their personal health and wellness;
- Work with their providers to identify which information collected from these tools should be shared with their providers; and/or
- Use websites and social media to discuss health issues, find resources to build decision-making skills, and compare how treatment options have worked with other individuals like them, while maintaining patient privacy. Then, consumers can share their findings, concerns, and preferences with their care team to choose the most appropriate treatment or option that meets their health goals.
- What types of clinical data might be most useful for consumers to have in personal health decisionmaking?
- How can eHealth tools help consumers better access their health information and manage health decisions, both for themselves and in partnership with their care team?
- How can ONC help encourage individuals to create and share health information captured by eHealth tools with their care team?
- How can health IT and eHealth tools help record patients’ choice, personal preferences, and values, about their health information and health care in ways that make this information available to their care team?
For discussion about integrating personal preferences into care decisions, see Supporting “personalized health care”.
For discussion about identifying relevant and useful consumer-generated data, see Patient generated health data.
For discussion about how technology can help improve health disparities by encouraging consumers to use readily available tools, see Decreasing health disparities through health IT.
§2. What government can do
To help consumers and providers take steps that support consumer action, the federal government could:
- Develop policies and technology standards that enable (i) consumers to more readily capture and transmit information securely to their providers, and (ii) providers to review and accept that information efficiently into an EHR to make their patients’ health history more complete and accurate, to track health status, and to assess patient satisfaction with their care in their electronic health record;
- Develop flexible regulations and policies that provide clarity for providers on how to incorporate information gathered by patients into their EHR, and enable device and software developers to create new and improved eHealth tools and health IT products that use a consumer’s health data in ways that help them to achieve their health goals; and/or
- Develop policies and programs to encourage and support patients’ making decisions about their health and care, on their own, with their caregivers, and in partnership with providers.
- How can ONC encourage and promote health IT’s role in providing patients and caregivers clear and usable information about a patient’s health diagnosis and recording patient preferences about treatment options into an EHR?
- How can the government foster health IT tools, standards, and processes that combine data from multiple sources to provide a complete EHR?
- How can the government encourage the development and use of eHealth tools that will allow discovery of what actions or practices lead to better health outcomes?
- How can government policies and programs build individuals’ skills and confidence in making decisions about their health and care, and/or provide resources to assist those less able or inclined to partner actively in their health and care?
For other discussions about the role federal regulation should play, see
§3. Privacy & security
ONC recognizes that privacy and security concerns may impact the willingness of consumers and providers to use health IT to increase access to health information. Privacy and security are the topic of a separate section of the Strategic Plan (Goal 3), since these concerns cut across all areas of health IT. Although this public comment period is not targeted at updating Goal 3, ONC will be revising that section of the Plan and your discussion of these concerns, and ideas about addressing them, will help the federal government decide on appropriate future steps.
(You can read the current version of Goal 3 by clicking the Background Documents tab at the top of this page, and selecting 2011-2015 Federal Health IT Strategic Plan).