If you read Mark Caron’s recent blog, Geneia’s HealthIT Predictions for 2018, you already know my one health IT (HIT) prediction for the coming year:
In 2018, there will continue to be a focus on the interoperability for healthcare data to enhance meaningful collaboration among providers and between payers and providers, and ultimately to drive success in population health initiatives.
Let me first introduce myself and then I’ll write about why I believe enhanced interoperability of healthcare data will be a primary focus of the healthcare industry this year.
At heart, I am a clinician.
I began my career in healthcare as a clinician. I hold a bachelor’s degree in public health and respiratory therapy with a master’s degree in health administration. I have spent more than a decade working with adults, children and neonatal infants, often some of the hospital’s most acutely-ill patients.
My work as a respiratory therapist has had a significant influence on my career within HIT. Despite the fact that I moved into product management more than 15 years ago, I still hold a Pennsylvania license to practice and work per diem on staff at a large academic medical facility near Philadelphia.
I really enjoy the patient care aspects of respiratory therapy and the satisfaction of seeing patients recover and leave a facility despite being on the edge of life during their stay. It is a special gift to work with patients and provide care and comfort to return their health. Healthcare provides a sense of reality as well that our health and life events are so important to our well-being. There is also an amazing aspect to the team effort from doctors, nurses and care professionals, one that is complemented by technologies that save lives.
I joined Geneia in October as the head of product management. I am thrilled to return to my roots in clinical product management and am enjoying the opportunity to use my skills and expertise, including nearly two decades at Siemens Healthcare, to build products that truly help healthcare organizations succeed in value-based contracts.
Our healthcare models are changing as we speak and the focus on quality delivery of care and tracking of populations at risk will be the foundation for success. After all, as any organization evolving to value-based care can tell you, it’s harder than it looks.
What’s required by those of us who are building value-based care solutions is an intimate knowledge of how healthcare really works as well as a thorough understanding of the everyday challenges and opportunities faced by those on the frontlines of patient care. It is this outlook that I bring to my job every day at Geneia. It’s also the reason I’m so passionate about interoperability and its strong connection to many of the crucial issues and initiatives currently facing the healthcare industry, including:
- Meaningful collaboration,
- Payer provider convergence,
- Patient-centered care, and even
- Epidemic levels of physician burnout.
Interoperability for Healthcare Data
The ability to share data across various providers continues to be a significant challenge for the healthcare community. Providers need to share patient data across organizations to improve outcomes and enhance clinical awareness of a patient’s medical profile. The current electronic health record (EHR) proliferation has yet to truly achieve a level of data exchange that meets the needs of providers and patients alike. Far too many patients have had recent experiences with providers where their data is either unavailable or they are asked to provide repeated updates to basic profiles of medications, surgical history, family history and other medical history events.
There are many reasons for the continued challenges of data exchange, including identifier matching, consent and more; however, the HIT community has never lost sight of the impact data exchange can provide. It’s difficult to imagine the healthcare industry can achieve success in value-based care, and complementary initiatives such as collaboration, convergence, patient-centered care and population health without better interoperability for healthcare data than we have today.
Interoperability Success Stories
In fact, there are many instances of success throughout the country and vendors are being more collaborative than ever before. Geneia, for example, is working with a vendor to more efficiently and effectively integrate our quality care gaps processes into the EHR record so providers can view and act on care gaps within their existing workflow as well as improve the care processes within their EHR.
Another success story is the Sequoia Project where various independent entities are collaborating to bring solutions to the ongoing challenges with data exchange.
Additionally, many states now offer capabilities that have laid the foundation for successful exchange of information among providers.
At a national level, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has created a network of opportunities to have HIT vendors, commercial entities and data exchange organizations (HIEs) come together to collaborate. The new Interoperability Proving Ground (IPG) is the latest series of projects demonstrating interoperability progress across the United States as well as the world. Various standards (FHIR, HL7, C-CDA) are being used in these projects and are demonstrating promising momentum towards interoperability.
The ONC also has put a major focus on resolving the challenging dilemma of interoperability within the HIT and provider communities. With the advent of the 21st Century Cures Act, the ONC has begun to work with various industry voices on projects to demonstrate the many components for success to nationwide interoperability exchange, and ultimately to recommend and support solutions that will lead to improved frameworks for data exchange.
Looking Ahead to 2018
The attention of the various industry stakeholders for exchange of information to support Triple Aim initiatives will be a major focus for HIT success in 2018. The exchange among providers is integral for patient outcome success, and, just as importantly, population health initiatives also require more payer provider collaboration with data sharing. The collaboration has begun and will continue in 2018. For population health initiatives to be successful, the various stakeholders need to work together on data exchange under both federal and state policy that allows for a secured, well-designed exchange platform for all.
As a respiratory therapist who has witnessed the impact of chronic lung conditions such as COPD and asthma on the healthcare system, I know first-hand HIT can enable crucial communication between patient and care teams, providing a better way for them to connect and also for patients to stay informed of their health status. Similarly, communication made possible through interoperability can help prevent the next hospital readmission, a major factor for success in the new payment models going forward.
As a product manager, I always look to the future of how technology can provide insights to better care for the patient and how data will allow care teams to understand the current status of their patients. With the technologies available today to connect with patients remotely, coupled with enhanced sharing of this data among care team members made possible through interoperability, there is an exceedingly bright future for population management and patient health.