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Status Report to the Vice President on Enhanced Health Information for Consumers


FROM: Donna E. Shalala
SUBJECT: Status Report on Enhanced Health Information for Consumers

I am pleased to forward to you our status report on HHS efforts to promote enhanced health information for consumers through applications of the National Information Infrastructure (NII). In your memorandum of March 8, 1995, you asked us to focus on four areas of health applications in the NII -- data standards, privacy, telemedicine, and enhanced health information for consumers -- and to report back to you on progress. You noted that HHS already had significant work underway in all of these areas, and you asked us to consolidate the ongoing HHS efforts into a coherent strategy coordinated both with other agencies and with private sector and State roles to achieve more effective use of the NII for health and health care.

In our status report to you in April, we outlined a variety of internal and interagency efforts and accomplishments in the areas of data standards, privacy and telemedicine, and indicated that we had already made significant progress. In the attached report, we describe progress in the area of enhanced health information for consumers.

Individuals, providers and governments all share an interest in informed and empowered consumers who can participate responsibly in maintaining their health and managing their health care. To that end, HHS supports numerous consumer health information activities, and is increasingly turning to opportunities afforded by the NII. HHS has always been a leader in this area, and is building on a variety of existing efforts while identifying new opportunities for enhanced consumer health information. Developments are occurring at a very rapid pace.

The attached status report was prepared under the auspices of the HHS Data Council. Following a statement of principles relating to enhanced health information for consumers, the report outlines a variety of current HHS and interagency accomplishments as well as future plans in the following areas:

  • Collaborative HHS Activities to Improve Online Access to Consumer Health Information
  • Enhanced Federal Coordination
  • Public-Private Collaboration
  • Policy Development
  • Research, Development and Evaluation, and
  • Consumer Health Information Needs of Special Populations

The report also includes a selected inventory of enhanced consumer health information activities of HHS and other federal agencies.

We hope that you will find the report informative, and we would be pleased to discuss any of these activities and plans with you.

Donna E. Shalala

Attachment: Status Report: Enhanced Health Information for Consumers