to create data requirements that are relevant and not burdensome, how to reward patients and providers for the creation and documentation of structured data, and the merits of distributed versus centralized approaches to information exchange.

Todd Park of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) highlights the significant amount of data currently held by the various agencies of HHS and how these data could improve the value, science base, and patient experience of health care. He describes HHS’s efforts to open access to high-value data sets and to encourage public participation in the use of these data for socially beneficial purposes.

The quality and accuracy of research results depend on the availability and integrity of data. Don Detmer of the University of Virginia discusses opportunities to increase the quantity and quality of data for health care and research. To achieve this end, he proposes several options for national policy that address security and privacy concerns while empowering citizens to allow their health data to be used for learning and discovery.


Farzad Mostashari, M.D., Sc.M.
Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology

The mission and goal of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology is to improve health and health care for all Americans through the appropriate use of HIT. ONC is therefore focused on characterizing key system needs and outcomes in addition to determining how technology can be a means to that end.

Meaningful Use and a Learning Healthcare System

“Meaningful use” is the term coined by Congress to connect technology to desired outcomes, and ONC’s proposed regulations represent our best guess as to how technology should be used to achieve these outcomes. If providers—eligible professionals or hospitals—use HIT systems in a meaningful way, they will be able to qualify for payments from CMS.

It is our goal, however, that meaningful use be applied for more than just qualifying for payments. Rather, it should be used to ensure that measurable improvements are made in health and in the quality, safety, and efficiency of health care. A secondary goal is to move beyond improving care for an individual patient at the point of care to creating a learning healthcare system. This is an outcome to which ONC aspires and a worthy endpoint toward which to build.

The next decade will witness a fundamental transformation of the

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