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The Marvelous Land of Oz: The HIMSS Interoperability Showcase

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As I walked the floor of the HIMSS Interoperability Showcase, listening to the tour guide’s carnie-esque pitch on the wonders awaiting me with each successive use case encounter, I ALMOST wished I hadn’t worked with so many of the organizations hawking their wares. It’s a bit sad to know the man behind the curtain, to realize that The Great and Powerful Oz is simply a man with a highly mechanized presentation. But that knowledge gives me insight that others attending the Showcase may not have had – and validation that, in the end, Oz IS Great and Powerful, even though he’s just a man.

There were 20 specific interoperability use cases represented at HIMSS this year, collectively, by 101 vendors. In order to qualify to participate, each of the organizations had to successfully demonstrate proficiency with their chosen use case at the Connectathon event in Chicago. In January. In a basement the size of a football field. Packed shoulder-to-shoulder with your closest competitors at high school-cafeteria tables. Talk about a frigid atmosphere!

Perhaps to stay warm, perhaps to pass the time, perhaps in the pursuit of the patient-centric design principles the healthcare industry espouses publicly yet so seldom seems to put into practice, cross-company collaboration occurs. Competitors converge on each others’ laptops, debugging code, refining business rules and algorithms. Functional use cases emerge, success stories are shared, everyone goes home happy with a list of enhancements to incorporate before the main event at HIMSS. The frantic rush to prep for Connectathon is amplified by the urgency and importance of HIMSS. The ONC is watching! Your competitors are watching! The 40K HIMSS attendees will be watching!

Invariably, the use cases are perfected in the weeks leading up to HIMSS, each click carefully orchestrated, each transition scripted, all parties putting forth their best effort to insure success for the spectators – many of whom are clients, prospects, regulatory officials, or journalists seeking The Next Big Healthcare Thing to go viral in the blogosphere. The yellow brick road is constructed, and as one walks its length, the carefully choreographed demonstrations come to life with compelling tales: “Keeping a Newborn Safe,” “Improving Pediatric Care,” “Optimizing Cancer Care,” “Beneficiary Enrollment.” The show goes on, and it’s a good one – albeit with the occasional glimpse of the man behind the curtain.

The perfectly nice gentleman manning the Federal Health Architecture booth seemed eager to demonstrate the capability to request and retrieve a patient’s medical record from multiple HIEs and disparate EMRs. He walked me through the provider portal view, showed me how he could see that there were multiple medical records available for this patient across providers, and talked me through each click up until the print button. Print?

“Aren’t you importing the records into the requesting EMR?” I asked.

“No. Right now, they have to print each set of records.”

“So, each time this scenario presents itself, the provider has to click on each available external record, print multiple pages, compare notes across screen and paper, and later choose whether to manually update his own EMR with the other information?”

The perfectly nice gentleman suddenly seemed uncomfortable. The Great and Powerful Oz, exposed as mere mortal, Oscar Zoroaster Diggs. You’d think I’d know when to quit.

“The standards and technology exist to do CCD discrete data import, and a couple of the large EMR vendors are implementing that capability for high Medicare population IDNs. How does it make the provider more efficient, and give the patient more face-time with his doctor, if we’re still printing and no data consolidation or reconciliation is happening prior to point-of-care? Why didn’t you extend the use case to show end state?”

He assured me that they’re working on it, and we made a deal that NEXT year, I’ll come back and he’ll walk me through their progress towards discrete data import. No printing, he promised. I’m going to hold him to it.

Aside from this specific use case, across the Marvelous Land of Oz, what I’d REALLY love to see next year: the basement Connectathon advancements made to support the use cases for HIMSS actually incorporated into the products. As part of the qualifying criteria for repeat showcase exhibitors, have them demonstrate the capabilities developed in prior years actually functioning in the marketplace under general release. That would be a substantial improvement on this year’s long jump attempt for the Interoperability Showcase.

I want to fall in love with the hard-working man behind the curtain, not the showy pyrotechnics.

March 11, 2013 I Written By

Mandi Bishop is a healthcare IT consultant and a hardcore data geek with a Master's in English and a passion for big data analytics, who fell in love with her PCjr at 9 when she learned to program in BASIC. Individual accountability zealot, patient engagement advocate, innovation lover and ceaseless dreamer. Relentless in pursuit of answers to the question: "How do we GET there from here?" More byte-sized commentary on Twitter: @MandiBPro.

First Day of HIMSS 10

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Well, I must admit that I’m a bit overwhelmed by everything I’ve seen and heard at HIMSS 10 in Atlanta. This thing is enormous. Although, I think I’m also trying to overcome the lack of sleep. Taking the Red-Eye from Las Vegas was the right choice, but I’m paying the price today for not having much sleep. Not that any of you really care.

What I’ve quickly realized is that I’ve over scheduled my time at HIMSS. This really isn’t too much of a problem for me since I LOVE being busy. The only problem with it is that it means that I won’t be able to create nearly as much content from the show as I’d like to create.

No worries though, I’m taking good notes and I’ll have plenty of great content to share with you over the next few weeks after HIMSS as well as during HIMSS. I have posted quite a few updates on my twitter account, @ehrandhit, and plan to do a lot more. Take a look through my updates to see some interesting items I heard during a briefing.

As I’ve talked with people at the conference, as expected, the EMR stimulus, meaningful use, certified EHR and everything related to those subjects is the main focus of discussion. I think that’s actually exciting. It’s a topic that everyone is kind of unified around. It creates a nice energy at the conference and is a topic that you can talk about with anyone.

Interoperability is also a really major discussion at this conference. I’m not sure how much real progress has been made, but there’s a lot of talk. I know I’m interested in a meeting I have setup with a person at ONC that works on the NHIN and CONNECT. I’m looking forward to hearing what he has to say.

Another interesting thing will be all the false information related to the EMR stimulus. It’s amazing how many professionals in the industry don’t even understand the details of the EMR stimulus. This is a problem and could have some ugly consequences down the road.

Watch for some more specific coverage of the conference tomorrow. Tomorrow is a very full day for me with some really exciting events including: the CCHIT town hall meeting, my Meet the Bloggers Session, an interview with one of my favorite EMR CEO bloggers, Evan Steele, and then of course the New Media Kick Off Event tomorrow night.

The CCHIT town hall should be quite lively since you know how much I love them. I’m thinking I might try and live blog it, or at least lots of tweets about the event.

February 28, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus. Healthcare Scene can be found on Google+ as well.

HHS Connect Program For Healthcare Data Interoperability

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I’ll admit to not being the most expert person on HIE, RHIO, NHIN, and all of the other acronyms associated what really is just creating systems and structures for sharing healthcare data between various doctors and systems. However, I do have some knowledge in the area since I believe all of these things will be important for those using an EMR. So, I was surprised when I’d never heard of HHS’ health connect software.

Here’s a short bit from Government Health IT of the government’s connect software’s latest update:

The Health & Human Services Department (HHS) has updated the government’s Connect software to improve information security and enterprise services for organizations that want to use it to exchange health data, said its senior architect.

Connect is federally developed software that lets agencies and healthcare organizations share health data by using the protocols, agreements and core services that make up the nationwide health information network (NHIN).

HHS is trying to develop improvements in the Connect gateway quickly so it can serve as an early model of the NHIN, executives said yesterday.

“The intent of the plan is that Connect will be a reference implementation of NHIN and provide a mechanism for organizations that are building gateways to have the ability to test against it and to provide for feedback to the NHIN specification group,” said Les Westberg, Connect technical lead in the Federal Health Architecture program and an executive with Agilex.

Is there anyone that knows more about this program that can give us a review of what’s going on. I’d love to hear about how far it’s come, the challenges its overcome and the challenges it still faces.

In fact, if you are someone working on one of the acronyms listed at the top that are trying to provide the all to elusive healthcare data interoperability I’d love to learn more about what’s going on in the comments or through a guest post if you have a lot to say.

October 11, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus. Healthcare Scene can be found on Google+ as well.