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Interoperability's Role in Fighting the Pandemic

woman wearing a mask sits alone on a train during the pandemic

As the coronavirus pandemic began to take hold of the world, much of the conversation understandably focused on federal and state responses. For most people, the role of health information technology remained hidden behind staggering infection rates and death tolls. But interoperability, it turns out, proved to be critical in coordinating the public health response.

We spoke with Jay Nakashima, executive director of eHealth Exchange, to learn how his organization retooled its focus to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. What we found was noteworthy in several ways:

  • The health information network connected healthcare provider organizations to public health agencies in a seamless manner that supported a stronger response than would have otherwise been obtainable.
  • The eHealth Exchange launched initiatives that enabled healthcare organizations, physicians, and patients to regain some sense of agency at a time when almost everything seemed out of their control.
  • Interoperability emerged as important in a time of pandemic as it is in times of peace.

But how did the eHealth Exchange, whose data network connects federal and non-federal organizations, wage its coronavirus response campaign? In this episode of InterSystems Healthy Data, Nakashima discusses electronic case reporting, advance care plans and directives, and new take on the Patient Unified Lookup System for Emergencies, better known as PULSE.

Of course, the United States and other nations still have work to do to achieve seamless, comprehensive interoperability. Nakashima also weighs in on how healthcare and technology leaders can advance the cause and why they must, even after COVID-19 enters the history books.

About the Hosts / Authors

Jack Murtha, digital storyteller

Jack Murtha is a digital storyteller who specializes in the intersection of healthcare and technology. Connect with Jack on Twitter.

 

 

Amid relentless hype, Tom Castles is drawn to those who take relentless action. For more than a decade, he has made a living helping action-oriented people and institutions craft their stories and build strategies that position them to earn the attention they deserve—all in the name of progress toward a more equitable world. Want to catch up? Connect with Tom on Twitter.

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