Thursday, January 30, 2014

Recapping the IHE NA Connectathon Conference 2014

Wednesday is  the day the IHE North American Connectathon becomes the Connectathon Conference.  IHE USA invites interested parties to hear about what the 500 engineers are doing downstairs at the Connectathon, and hear from National and International leaders in interoperability about how they are utilizing IHE profiles.
This year the conference was kicked off by Joyce Sensmeier, IHE USA President and vice president,  informatics, HIMSS. The keynote speaker was Doug Fridsma; other leaders from the Healthcare sector also spoke at the conference.
The big news for Connectathon participants is that this record breaking coldest Chicago Connectathon (with highs in the single digits and lows below zero) will indeed be the coldest Chicago Connectathon ever. Starting next year (Jan.26-30, 2015) IHE NA Connectathon will be held at the Global Center for Health Innovation in Cleveland, Ohio. A welcome change will be the natural lighting available to the Connectathon participants.  No more basement zombies!
We heard several times during the day from Mike Nusbaum, an interoperability leader in Canada.  He explained how IHE Canada is fully integrated into the Infoway Standards Collaborative.  While such a model could be successful in the U.S., it doesn’t seem likely in the near future, but the possibility hasn’t been ruled out according to Doug Fridsma.  Mike made the point that InfoWay has money like  the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) does, to advance health IT.  Doug later acknowledged the point during his keynote, but gave InfoWay the nod for having more funding than he does.
Doug kicked off his keynote by first demonstrating that interoperability between different systems, such as projectors and laptops, was something that could be enabled by standards (his laptop to his video graphics array).  Doug walked the attendees through a Presioexplaining ONC’s key priorities, and explaining some of his deep thinking around interoperability.  Much of this included points I and others have heard before, but never before in one presentation.
Key points include:
  • ONC is in charge of standardizing five things:  Meaning, Structure, Transport, Security and Services.  When you put the first four together, you get the last, which is services (or APIS).
  • ONC has key priorities for how to advance the standards in each of those categories, and Doug explained those quite clearly.  I strongly recommend reviewing his presentation online.
  • Doug also elaborated on a point that I’ve heard a number of times, and I think bears repeating:  ONC and its mission to advance Health IT is not limited to Meaningful Use.  Of course that’s one significant goal, but if you look at other things coming down the pike, like accountable care organizations, Veterans Affairs/Department of Defense collaboration, the European Union/United States collaboration, the recently signed United States/United Kingdom collaboration agreement, and other health IT initiatives, there’s more to ONC than just Meaningful Use.
ONC took on a new role with respect to participation in both Connectathon and in IHE this year.  Doug has been on-site all week working with teams testing out US extensions to Healthcare Provider Directory.  To get that kind of time from Doug is quite significant.  ONC is now an IHE International member, and is working with IHE on several other initiatives, including Structured Data Capture (getting data into the electronic health record), and data out using the Data Access Framework (DAF).  While I’ve been leading that effort from the IHE Patient Care Coordination (PCC) domain as the “editor”, the real work has been driven by Nagesh Bashyam or “Dragon,” working through ONC funded activities, with me to simply ensure that it has the right IHE flavor.  It’s been an awesome collaboration.

I’d love to say lots more about the conference, and will in later posts, but I’ve already gotten past the TL/DR (too long, didn’t read) point.  So come back later to my blog for more.


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