FDA Writes Prescription For IT Innovation

Food and Drug Administration releases public health plan to prioritize new tools to enhance laboratory analysis in the field.
Slideshow: Who's Who In Healthcare IT
Slideshow: Who's Who In Healthcare IT
The Food and Drug Administration is prioritizing IT as part of its five-year strategic plan, including accelerating a program to build innovative devices to improve field and laboratory analysis.

The FDA released a draft of its strategic plan late last month. In addition, the agency is working on a five-year Information Technology Strategic Plan (ITSP) to support key parts of the agency's public health activities, and is seeking comments on the draft.

The agency is modernizing its IT infrastructure to spur innovation and foster collaboration with other federal agencies as well as globally, according to the plan.

IT also will factor in new ways to help the FDA ensure its IT environment complies with federal laws and regulations for security, privacy and confidentiality.

Additionally, the agency plans to manage IT projects and investments to demonstrate improvements across the board for FDA programs and projects, according to the plan. One of the more innovative strategies the FDA is undertaking is its Analytical Tools Initiative, which aims to build new technologies to provide more rapid analysis of food and drugs both in the field and during laboratory testing.

The plan outlined some devices already in use at the agency. In fiscal year 2010, FDA training staff tested a handheld device, called the Counterfeit Detector, to help personnel in charge of inspecting imports to detect counterfeit drugs and packaging, according to the plan.

Another device that the FDA has been testing includes a portable X-ray Fluorescence device that can detect toxic elements in imported products, such as food and dietary supplements, according to the plan. Currently, the device can analyze imports for lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic and selenium, with additional capabilities planned in the future.

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