by: Samantha Burch, Senior Director, Congressional Affairs, HIMSS
Five years after the start of the HITECH Meaningful Use program, the national dialogue about the future of healthcare automation is shifting from a focus on technology adoption to the exchange and use of health information across providers and care settings to improve patient care and outcomes.
Last Friday, May 22 on Capitol Hill, the HIMSS Foundation’s Institute for e-Health Policy (@eHealthPolicy) held a panel discussion to address this timely issue of “interoperability” in healthcare – establishing where we are today and discussing the path forward. The panel of federal government and private sector experts covered a lot of ground in two hours.
Setting the tone for the briefing was a statement made at the outset by Erica Galvez from the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) that interoperability is “largely not a technology problem” and there are many examples of interoperability happening today. Erica went on to describe the main components of the ONC’s Interoperability Roadmap including timelines, building blocks, requirements and future actions.
Mariann Yeager, Executive Director of Healtheway, Inc., followed with an overview of the eHealth Exchange – a real world example of how federal agencies and non-federal organizations are collaborating to achieve health information exchange for more than 100 million patients. Mark Segal, EHRA chair and HIMSS Public Policy Committee member, whose day job is vice president of Government and Industry Affairs at GE Healthcare IT, closed the session by sharing the vendor perspective and taking a deeper dive into the critical role standards play in enabling interoperability.
Key take-aways included recognition that although real progress has been made, many challenges remain (regulatory timelines, patient data matching, the need for robust testing, etc.) and the promise of new and realigned incentives (new payment and delivery models) to accelerate interoperability.
The next Institute panel on June 3, will explore interoperability through the lens of our active duty military, retirees, and veterans with a focus on the Department of Defense Military Health System and the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Health Administration. Please visit the Institute website to learn more!