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You CAN Get There from Here: Navigating Interoperability

Not surprisingly, we’ve had a lot of questions recently about what we think of the draft Interoperability Roadmap published by the US Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for HIT. We’ve always believed that interoperability is essential to providing better, safer, more cost effective care for individuals and communities. The vision for HealthShare is to transform care (and health) through shared records.

Given that, what do we think about a national focus on interoperability? We’re delighted!

The roadmap articulates a good vision for an interoperability-enabled learning health system. It spells out incremental milestones for a 10-year period. It encourages public/private partnership and support for the work of standards groups like IHE. And it is built around 10 guiding principles that sound a lot like a HealthShare brochure!

Even so, 10 years is a long time, and the nature and breadth of the plan leaves plenty of opportunity to elongate the implementation even further.

My colleague wrote recently about the urgency of having in place strong interoperability in the face of the alphabet soup of payment reform. That urgency puts me in mind of another roadmap challenge 13 years ago. At that time, we purchased a home in a new development. Under the best of circumstances, navigating was difficult since the neighborhood was designed in a circuitous fashion. But for the first year, our house didn’t appear on paper maps, online, or in GPS directions. During those early days, we had a clear vision of where we wanted to go, and we knew our starting point. But we couldn’t wait around for the implementation of detailed directions. We worked out the navigation somehow, and appreciated the updates when they arrived.

Similarly, we see health plans, providers, states and regions moving forward now to deploy a robust interoperability platform that moves well beyond the scope of the clinical information exchange described in the roadmap, and to incorporate administrative, claims, and patient data as well. We see them using it to facilitate care coordination, to empower patients, to support new business relationships, and to manage risk. In short, they are leading the way to help realize the vision articulated by the Shared National Interoperability Roadmap.

My family and I couldn’t do anything to accelerate the realization of the roadmap to our house all those years ago. But our HealthShare team looks forward to partnering with our HIT colleagues to make the vision of interoperable health information a reality.


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