Department of Health definition

The United States Department of Health and Human Services, or more commonly referred to as the Health Department, is a cabinet-level department of the United States federal government, founded in 1953 by U.S President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The primary purpose of the health department is to protect the health of its citizens and provide essential human services. The health department, or HHS, is administered by the Secretary of Health and Human Services who is appointed by the U.S. president with advice and consent of the Senate.

What does the department of health and human services do

According to its website, the mission of the HHS is "to enhance the health and well-being of all Americans, by providing for effective health and human services and by fostering advances (...) advances in medicine, public health, and social services".

The HHS manages all national programs related with health, welfare and its technologies (health IT). The Department works together with other federal government expenditures and administers a bigger budget than all other federal agencies combined.

Currently, the programs of the HHS are administered by eleven divisions:

  1. Administration for Children and Families (ACF)
  2. Administration for Community Living (ACL)
  3. Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ)
  4. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  6. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
  7. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  8. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
  9. Indian Health Service (IHS)
  10. National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  11. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Besides, the HHS also includes the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (USPHS), a federal uniformed service which is overseen by the surgeon general.

Regarding health IT, the HHS oversees the implementation of several systems and procedures, including:

  • Guidance for healthcare application development
  • Guidance to protect against ransomware attacks
  • Understanding new cutting-edge technology
  • Actively administering a health IT infrastructure