Health-focused government agencies are in a good position to lead implementation of Federal Data Strategy initiatives – such as improving data protection – because of their ongoing investments aimed at that goal, Federal CIO Suzette Kent said Jan. 15 at AFCEA Bethesda Health IT Summit.

“In this community, the recognition of the value of individual data and the rules around protecting it are the highest … Protection of healthcare information has had some of the longest standing protocols, and also the most complex,” she said. “That’s the reason that the work in this community is not only important for the impact that you’re making, you’re also setting an example for other parts of the government.”

The Federal CIO praised the human-centered missions of healthcare agencies, and their ability to share data to improve services, efficiency, and patient care. The massive amounts of data that agencies generate through their efforts, she said, can be used to solve highly complex problems.

“Although that impact on the person’s life is the exciting, meaningful thing … the investments that we are making on modern data management tools, structures, governance and formalized frameworks for how we operate legally and operationally, those are really important investments,” she said.

Sharing data just within the walls of an agency can be complicated, Kent said, but it frequently improves agency outcomes if they are willing to put in the work. As efforts are made to improve data sharing, the Federal CIO urged even stronger focus on privacy and protection of information.

“As we tighten that security, that gives us opportunity to deliver, and as we seek to deliver more services from a digital and mobile capability and share more information, the protocols in doing that have to be more secure,” she said.

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Katie Malone
Katie Malone
Katie Malone is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.