While the US and UK special relationship may be cooling when it comes to foreign policy, it’s warming back up on healthcare. Under a newly signed memorandum of understanding, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the U.K.’s National Health Service will collaborate on health IT information sharing. In addition to information, the two countries will share tools and best practices in an effort to further the adoption of new health IT technologies, and improve patient care. Secretaries for both offices signed the agreement at the Annual Meeting of the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.
At a bilateral summit held in June of last year, the Secretaries identified core areas for collaboration. Quality indicators on depression and knee/hip quality will be two such areas. The two countries are now looking for areas of alignment on quality indicators for these two areas, once complete, they will start working on best practices.
In addition to quality indicators, the two countries are working on making more health data open. Areas of collaboration noted in the memo include:
- Open data and safe and secure data transparency of secondary stored data, with the consent of patients to allow for the two countries to further assess the quality of preventive interventions and health care delivery;
- Interoperability standards for improvement of data sharing and clinical care respectively, with a focus on consumer/patients accessing and sharing their data.
Both offices are working on ways to improve the market for health IT companies as well by increasing the adoption of electronic health records, and identifying barriers to entry for enterprise. The memo includes work on finding ways to support small to medium businesses and startups focused on health IT.
“While we have very different health care delivery systems and payment models, we both face similar challenges posed by aging populations, increased levels of co-morbid chronic disease, and escalating complexity of care delivery and costs,” Secretary Sebelius said.