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As GAO and others have reported, the use of information technology (IT) has enormous potential to improve the quality of health care and is critical to improving the performance of the U.S. health care system. Given the federal government's role in providing health care in the U.S., it has been urged to take a leadership role in driving change to improve the quality and effectiveness of health care, including the adoption of IT. In April 2004, President Bush called for widespread adoption of interoperable electronic health records within 10 years and issued an executive order that established the position of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. A National Coordinator within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was appointed in May 2004 and released a framework for strategic action two months later. In May 2005, GAO recommended that HHS establish detailed plans and milestones for each phase of the framework and take steps to ensure that its plans are followed and milestones are met. GAO was asked to identify progress made by HHS toward the development and implementation of a national health IT strategy. To do this, GAO reviewed prior reports and agency documents on the current status of relevant HHS activities.

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