Growing Expectations for Interoperability and Healthcare Data Sharing

Over the last decade, all 5 national coordinators for health information technology have discussed the importance of connecting healthcare data, but the timing is finally right now, according to Karen B. DeSalvo, MD.

Over the last decade, all 5 national coordinators for health information technology have discussed the importance of connecting healthcare data, but the timing is finally right now, Karen B. DeSalvo, MD, current National Coordinator for Health Information Technology for HHS, said during the closing keynote session at the US News Hospital of Tomorrow conference in Washington, DC, on October 8.

There are a few reasons why the situation is different in the country. For instance, payment reform is driving a need not only to collect data, but put it to use to improve healthcare and patients’ lives.

“There is now data to be shared, and you can almost palpably feel it pushing,” she said. “There’s a consumer expectation that it will be available for their use with their consent.”

However, Dr DeSalvo said that as exciting as it is to be able to use and share data, it’s important to remember it is peoples’ personal data and it represents their lives. She added that, when asked, people tend to be fine with having their data shared with clinicians and other individuals with the same or similar medical conditions as long as they know the data won’t be used to discriminate against them.

“Generally, what you find in the consumer space is that there’s an appreciation that the data can be useful not only to help themselves but help others,” Dr DeSalvo said.

She also took the time to discuss the 10-year interoperability roadmap being constructed that will explain what needs to happen by what time and who needs to lead the charge.

On October 15 the advisory committee will preview the roadmap draft, and it will be open to public comment in January. The roadmap has steps on how to get to interoperability with goals set for 3, 6, and 10 years.

“[HHS is] remembering that health is more than healthcare and that health information technology goes well beyond electronic health records,” Dr DeSalvo said.