Monday, September 15, 2014

HL7WGM Plenary

The HL7 Plenary session is an annual event in which HL7 members hear from folks outside the standards development space.  This year the topic this year was around data, with focus on analytics, privacy and ethics.  First up was Dr. Richard Platt, who talked about the value of Mini-Sentinel and PCORnet, and the value of a standard data model to support the benfits of a learning healt system.  His talk was good, but what I found unfortunate was that we still focus on claims data.  One of his key points was that clinical data used in the EHR is designed to meet the neds of clinicians, not computers.  And so we get the problem below, which physicians resolve quite readily, but computers do not.

Next up was Zoi Kolitsi, Ph.D. Who talked about the balance between data protection and innovation.  The key points in her presentation were:
* Health and health data is special, even in the EU it receives an exception in legislation.
* Everytime that eHealth comes up, the legal aspects are also brought up.
* Governance, identity, and privacy are important principles to build into data sharing.

After the break, Marc Overhage gave a great presentation the challenge given to JASON (find the Golden Fleece).  He was quite quotable in his presentation.  For example, "if Interoperability is the problem, then architecture was the answer... not that anyone had ever thought of that before."  Or "the simple fix is to change the Universal Gravitational Constant..."

Here are his key challenges for interoperability:
* Maintaining privacy
* Misaligned incentives
* Competing priorities
* Same old problems
 - semantic variation
 - patient, provider and location matching
* Missing events model

Note that only one of these is technical (missing event model is one worth a whole blog post).

While Mike Jennings from Walgreens made a good start talking about how Walgreens use HL7 standards like CDA, Version 2 and Version 3, the rest of his presentation was little more than either an advertisement, or a rehash of all the reasons (which we well understood) for using health data.

Last up was Ken Goodman who talked about ethics in interoperability.  His presentation was very thought provoking.  Fitting ethics into the process of standards development and software development is something that he thinks is critical.  I need to digest his slides a bit more.

All in all, it was a useful plenary.  I'd give it an 8.5 out of ten.  Next time, I think we should probably provide the speakers with the same warning about "advertising" that HL7 tutorial speakers get.  That might have made it a 9 or 10.


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