US and UK working to strengthen use of health IT for better patient care

Press Release | US Department of Health and Human Services | January 23, 2014

January 23, 2014-As the use of health information technology (health IT) grows in both the United States and the United Kingdom, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and U.K. Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt today signed a bi-lateral agreement for the use and sharing of health IT information and tools. The agreement strengthens efforts to cultivate and increase the use of health IT tools and information designed to help improve the quality and efficiency of the delivery of health care in both countries.  The two Secretaries signed the agreement at the Annual Meeting of the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

“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. “By working together, we can more effectively take on these challenges, improve the health IT economy, and the health of the American and British populations.”

The agreement signals a formal commitment by both countries to collaborate to advance the applications of data and technology to improve health.

“This is a ground-breaking agreement that will help both of our countries use information and technology more effectively to improve care, safety and give people more control over their health, which is now even more important as we transcend care boundaries,” said Secretary Hunt. “By bringing knowledge together this will not only offer insight into tackling common problems across health IT, but through innovation, it will help small to medium enterprises play an effective role in our healthcare market. I would like to thank all involved in making this agreement happen and look forward to collaborating across our health IT economies.”

Originally identified at the June 5, 2013, bilateral summit meeting between the United States and United Kingdom, the collaboration focuses on four key areas for health IT and innovation.

  • Sharing Quality Indicators – The collaboration reviewed existing quality indicators and selected Depression symptom screening and knee/hip quality indicators, and is now identifying alignments across existing British and American repositories to identify best practices in the design and use of quality indicators. Future work will include mutually leveraging technical experts and data, and working on a standardized approach to quality indicator development;
  • Liberating Data and Putting It to Work – HHS and the National Health Service will discuss and find areas of collaboration around:
    • 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
  • Adopting Digital Health Record Systems –  Both organizations will work to maximize successful adoption of digital records across the health care spectrum and support the development of a robust health IT workforce; and
  • Priming the Health IT Market – Both organizations will work to support the Health IT Marketplace by identifying barriers to innovation, sharing individual certification approaches for patients and clinician-facing applications, and strategies to support small and medium enterprises/start-ups.

The full text of the memorandum of understanding can be found at Collaborative work outputs, such as best practices for the design and use of clinical quality measures, information on new data sets and expanded data catalogs, and progress made in supporting the Health IT ecosystem, will be showcased at Health Innovation Expo conference in Manchester, England, in March and at the Health Datapalooza to be held in June 2014 in Washington, D.C.

This memorandum to help increase health IT tools use to improve health care quality, efficiency, and delivery follows the Memorandum of Understanding with the European Commission signed in 2010. That memorandum facilitates more effective uses of eHealth and health IT by creating medical documentation that can be exchanged among countries and improves the care and safety of patients.


Contact: HHS Press Office  (202) 260-6342

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Last revised: January 23, 2014