HIT stakeholders collaborate at White House forum

Health IT prominently appeared on the White House agenda on June 19, when an invited group of hospital executives, physicians, nurses and other stakeholders gathered for a two-hour discussion. Panelists zeroed in on how health IT is advancing nationwide.

Justin Barnes, vice-president of marketing, industry and government affairs for Greenway Medical and chairman emeritus of the EHR Association, who served as a panelist at the meeting, said approximately 100 people attended.

Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, and Liz Fowler, special assistant to the president for healthcare and economic policy presided over the meeting, according to Barnes. Farzad Mostashari, MD, the national coordinator for health information technology, moderated the discussion.

The intent of the assembly was to focus on advancements in improving care quality and patients' health in relation to health IT and what solutions can be shared as leaders look to increase the momentum of adoption. It was a "very, very lively" discussion, Barnes said.

According to Barnes, the White House wanted to gauge progress in healthcare IT adoption – specifically with regard to electronic health records, interoperability and improving care quality. There was no set agenda and attendees were encouraged to share thoughts, solutions and questions via open microphones.

Health information exchange was the first topic, according to Barnes: "looking at it both as a noun and as a verb."

"It was a good conversation from the standpoint that providers and health systems seem ready for it and ready for progress via single interoperability standard," Barnes said. "Everybody is kind of waiting on progress."

The administration staff strongly encouraged those who had HIE success stories to come forward and share their solutions, he added.

"Success was shared regarding the Direct Project as well as CCR & CCD interoperability. Even a peer-to-peer connection was successful in one community but numerous great ideas were shared and additional collaboration will commence," Barnes noted.

There was also strong support among those in attendance for HL7's consolidated clinical documentation standard (CCDA), proposed for use industry-wide in the meaningful use Stage 2 regulation, according to Barnes.

"There is a lot of optimism about the work that has been done toward interoperability," he said, "but there is still a lot of work to do. It's slow progress, but it's progress."

"This is a maturation process and we're moving as fast as we can," Barnes said of the industry's effort to adopt health IT and implement interoperability. "We're moving an entire system forward and we are in the middle of it. It's hard work for everyone. Finger-pointing doesn't get us anywhere, but holding each other accountable does."

"I do applaud the administration for bringing the public and private sector together, concluded Barnes. "These forums are extremely useful."

Photo attributed to David Maiolo via Creative Commons license.

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