Federal agency officials made it clear that the concept of “health IT alignment” is their number one priority in the IT sphere during a July 25 webinar organized by Federal News Network.

titled Federal Executive Forum Healthcare IT in Government hosted by Federal News Network on July 25.

Ryan Dempsey Argentieri, deputy director of the office of technology at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), explained during the Federal Executive Forum Healthcare IT in Government webinar the need to achieve health IT alignment across the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

“I would say that’s the number one priority because it extends to all the other priorities” across HHS, she said. Achieving that alignment, he said, makes “sure that we are all rowing in the same direction and leveraging all the great work happening by the smartest people in the respective rooms across the department.”

The alignment process means “basically [ensuring] that all the standards are being adopted and harmonized consistently in all the programs that are federally funded across the government,” stated Argentieri.

Karl Mathias, chief information officer (CIO) at HHS, said other important work that must be accomplished at HHS includes bulking up cybersecurity across the larger healthcare infrastructure in the United States.

“The healthcare industry was the number one target for ransomware attacks,” stated Mathias. “We are looking for ways to help prevent those attacks, mitigate them when they happen and provide assistance to the healthcare industry.”

Mathias said that one of the crucial tools that hospitals and healthcare practitioners can utilize is the 405d.hhs.gov website, which provides “consensus-based guidelines, practices, and methodologies to strengthen the healthcare and public health (HPH) sector’s cybersecurity posture against cyber threats,” according to its website.

Other priorities discussed during the webinar include the Department of Veteran Affairs’ (VA) efforts to deploy electronic health record modernization solutions to the James A. Lovell Federal Health Care VA Center in North Chicago, Ill.

Neil Evans, acting program executive director for Electronic Health Record Modernization at the VA, talked about how the agency is moving forward with employing modernization efforts for record-keeping at the facility, with a target deployment date of March 2024.

“It’s really an example of a place where a common Federal record makes an incredible amount of sense at a site that has both a Navy base that processes more than 40,000 Naval recruits per year as they enter the Navy, as well as a VA hospital providing a full set of services to both veterans and beneficiaries of the Department of Defense’s health care system,” stated Evans.

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Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.