Are The Keys To Interoperable Health IT Hidden Outside The Health Care Field?

Billy Mitchell | FedScoop | September 24, 2014

To build a truly modern and interoperable health care system, some leading health IT experts think critical answers may be hidden in industries typically thought to be unassociated with health care.  “Sometimes I think we’ve been working to define or consider solutions in the health IT space thinking about health care, but I think the truth is there are assets and strategies that have worked in other arenas that we should look to leverage if it makes sense and get ourselves out of that traditional thinking of the house of medicine,” said Karen DeSalvo, the national coordinator for Health Information Technology, during an ACT-IAC health care panel Wednesday that will set the agenda for a health IT working group.

Ten years since the inception of the the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT within the Department of Health and Human Services, the American health care system is experiencing an unprecedented abundance of data. “The priorities then of course included some of the same priorities we still want to carry forward, such as connecting care through the movement of data across the care continuum and beyond,” DeSalvo said. “But we did not have data to share in the way that we do today.”

While more data is an obvious boon to creating an effective electronic health record system, something required of ONC and others in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009, leveraging it and making it work together is a difficult task.  David Bowen, chief information officer of the Military Health System and director of health information technology for the Defense Health Agency, described the Defense Department’s health records as a “spaghetti pile of data.” To clean up that mess, Bowen said, they have to work on standardizing the different services, all of which he said do things in their own unique and different ways...