Feature | May 04, 2015 | Melinda Taschetta-Millane

Focusing on Interoperability

The ITN team has just returned from the Healthcare Information and Management Society’s (HIMSS15) annual conference in Chicago, where more than 43,000 healthcare IT professionals gathered to learn about and share information on optimizing healthcare outcomes using information technology. 

The trending topic definitely revolved around interoperability. Interoperability is described as the extent to which systems and devices can exchange data, and then interpret that shared data. In order for two systems to be interoperable, they must be able to exchange data, and subsequently present that data so it can be understood by the user.

From the keynote presentations to the education sessions to the exhibit hall floor, many conversations were focusing on interoperability. Bruce Broussard, Humana’s president and CEO, stressed in his keynote address that value and interoperability are keys to success, stating that U.S. healthcare must transition from a supply-based system to a demand-based system, with patient choice at the center. He also emphasized a value-based reimbursement system is the unavoidable future. “Value-based reimbursement and interoperability are the keys to change,” he said. “The lack of both means we remain in a siloed healthcare system.” Technology plays a key role in consumer-driven innovation, and Broussard discussed how healthcare is becoming increasingly democratized through the explosion of mobile devices and sophisticated data analytics, resulting in the emergence of a wide variety of alternate care delivery sites that respond to consumers’ needs.

In another HIMSS15 keynote, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) Acting Assistant Secretary for Health Karen DeSalvo, M.D., shared that after participating in numerous listening sessions over this past year and talking with those directly in the trenches about what matters most, she is optimistic about this country’s commitment to leverage health IT for improved outcomes. DeSalvo is a physician who has focused her career toward improving access to affordable, high-quality care for all people, especially vulnerable populations, and promoting overall health. She has done this through direct patient care, medical education, policy and administrative roles, research and public service. As the national coordinator for health information technology, she sets high-level policy and the strategic direction of the office, including efforts related to interoperability. The ONC is at the forefront of the nation’s health IT efforts to adopt and meaningfully use health information technology, and collectively achieve health information technology interoperability as a foundational element of better health for everyone in America.

The exhibit hall floor featured the 40,000-square-foot HIMSS Interoperability Showcase, which was held in collaboration with Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE). It offered a real-time look at how interoperability enables health and clinical information to be successfully delivered in a variety of healthcare settings, and featured more than 20 rooms where vendors demonstrated interoperability in multiple care settings. 

To learn more about HIMSS15, view our Editor’s Choice videos from the show floor.

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