Home  |   Subscribe  |   Resources  |   Reprints  |   Writers' Guidelines

ONC, West Health Institute Issue Interoperability Guidance

The Gary and Mary West Health Institute and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) recently released a white paper summarizing the HCI-DC 2014: Igniting an Interoperable Health Care System conference, featuring lessons learned and synthesizing findings into a call for action to achieve an interoperable health care system.

"Interoperability is a burning issue that impairs care delivery, and patients are waiting for it to be improved," says Nicholas Valeriani, chief executive of West Health. "Interoperability can enable a smarter health care delivery system and I encourage all stakeholders to recognize that the lack of interoperability is a crisis and to advocate for rapid change."

Featuring a 10-page executive summary of the opportunities and challenges associated with interoperability, the HCI-DC white paper provides guidance on how hospitals, health systems and clinicians, patients, regulatory agencies, health care technology vendors, standards development organizations, the investor community, and payors can all take clear action to drive interoperability. It also summarizes keynote and panel presentations from HCI-DC 2014, which took place February 6, 2014, in Washington D.C.

"ONC envisions an information-rich, consumer centered health care system that allows a patient's health information to follow them wherever they get their care," says Karen DeSalvo, MD, national coordinator for health information technology. "We are working with patients, providers, and others across health care and health IT to securely and safely free health information that will help to improve patient care and health, at lower costs."

Joseph Smith, MD, PhD, chief science and medical officer at the West Health Institute, is the executive editor of the white paper. Contributing editors include Doug Fridsma, MD, PhD, chief science officer and director at the ONC's Office of Science & Technology; Michael Johns, MD, chairman for the Center for Medical Interoperability; Mark Leahey, president and CEO of the Medical Device Manufacturers Association; and Bakul Patel, senior policy advisor to the director of the Center for Devices and Radiological Health at the US Food and Drug Administration.

Interoperability—the ability of systems to exchange information and to use the information that has been exchanged—can help solve the health care crisis. The West Health Institute's HCI-DC 2014, cohosted by ONC, brought together experts from across the health care community to consider how interoperability can cut costs, improve efficiency, reduce errors, and improve health. Interoperability across systems and care settings can empower patients, help doctors make better decisions, and allow them and nurses and other health care providers to spend more time with patients. It can accelerate innovation and free up technology resources in hospitals so that they can focus on improving care in the community.

According to a West Health Institute analysis, interoperability could be a source of more than $30 billion a year in savings and improve patient care and safety.

The full white paper as well and the abbreviated executive summary including the call for action are available for free download at www.westhealth.org/institute/hci-dc-event.

Sources: Gary and Mary West Health Institute and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology