Often, it feels like things don’t move fast enough in healthcare. But after almost 30 years in the field, I’ve learned how remarkable the advance of health information exchange is in just the last 10 years.

Recently I attended the Strategic Health Information Exchange Conference (SHIEC) in Indianapolis, where I sat in on the opening presentation by Donald Rucker, MD, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. This year, SHIEC’s focus was on how the health information exchange is coming closer than ever to achieving the promise of interoperability to deliver meaningful outcomes.

During Dr. Rucker’s keynote, he discussed the great challenge of interoperability: using technology to enhance healthcare providers’ ability to share patient health information for better patient outcomes and improved collaboration. He introduced the 21st Century Cures Act, which features some important health IT considerations, including “having ONC assist public-private partnerships to ‘create a trusted exchange framework, including a common agreement among health information networks nationally.’”

Finally, Dr. Rucker shared ONC’s user cases involving the provider-to-provider connections fundamental to achieving true interoperability:

  • Electronic access to patient records is imperative – direct access to Protected Health Information (PHI) lays the foundation for interoperability to work properly.
  • Broader interoperability for the masses – managing large amounts of data and queries is an ONC priority.
  • Transparency in payment – patients shopping around for the most cost-effective treatment will need pricing transparency before choosing a provider. Payers have an advantage here already, and are increasingly more integrated into the interoperability equation.
  • Defining an open API – APIs in health information technology systems are now required in federally certified software, and will allow third-party systems access to individual data requests.

A story everyone attending SHIEC was following was the impact of Hurricane Harvey on the Gulf Coast of Texas. The value of the health information exchange was plain to see when Texas HIE leaders were able to open remote EHR portals at the George R. Brown Convention Center as the storm developed. This enabled clinicians to access affected Texans’ medical records and ensure data access through a data center in Salt Lake City.

I returned from SHIEC inspired and ready to develop new HIE innovations to address the challenges our clients face. Health information exchanges are a vital part of optimizing care outcomes and service delivery models to improve access to comprehensive patient information where and when it’s needed. I’m excited to lead the team that offers our clients solutions to overcome value-based care initiatives and thrive.

CTA:  Join us for our upcoming webinar “Connectivity for Health Transformation: The next phase of Health Information Exchange.” Our experts will dive into the current HIE landscape, the future state of data exchange, and how the 21st Century Cures Act will affect health information exchange. Click here to register.