Fridsma: Meaningful Use Causing 'Real Fatigue'

Mike Miliard | Government Health IT | December 5, 2014

"Interoperability is hard in the concrete,” Doug Fridsma, MD said, “it is impossible in the abstract.”  Fridsma, former chief scientist at ONC and now CEO of AMIA, said on Wednesday at RSNA's 100th annual meeting in Chicago that the key is enabling the free flow of information of all types — from lab results to medications to imaging data — within and between healthcare organizations of all shapes and sizes.  Widespread interoperability has been elusive so far, but ONC has been working on an expansive 10-year roadmap pointing the way toward full-on data liquidity, from sea to shining sea. In the meantime, there's a lot of hard work to do.

"There is this focus on the high-level strategies, and that's going to be important," said Fridsma, who stepped down from the agency this fall after five years coordinating its approach to standards, interoperability and health information exchange. But in the near term, he said, it was crucial to focus on achievable goals.  "The roadmap will help us," said Fridsma. "The challenge will be to make it actionable, to make it concrete. We have to make sure what we do is grounded in real things that we want to accomplish."

Fridsma isn't the only official to leave ONC in recent months. A staff exodus, coupled with other questions about the agency's budget and mandate — not to mention yet another pivotal and potentially landscape-shifting election in 2016 — all mean challenges for the agency "at a critical time when a lot of things are coming down the pike," he said...