It seems like AI was the talk of the town at every healthcare conference we attended in 2018. However, at #HIMSS19 we saw many conversations taking a step back and focusing on the improvements still needed in interoperability across healthcare systems and daily workflows. Without easy access to data, AI and other initiatives in machine learning and research cannot take place.
This message became even more clear at the very beginning of the week when a new rule issued by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology stated that patients should be the actors and not “acted upon” when it comes to their medical record. According to the Director of the Office of Policy for the ONC, “if a patient requests their record, and it’s not given to them electronically and for free, that’s information blocking.” The ONC is not accepting any excuses as HIEs and other health information exchanges could be liable for penalties of up to $1 million for lack of interoperability. In order for this to be possible, a data network must be created, one that isn’t locked behind the siloed walls of many EMR systems.
“Nothing is more important for patients than to be able to share information,” said Morris Panner, Ambra Health, CEO, during an interview with CommonWell TV. Panner shared how CommonWell has been a great democratizing influence that allows organizations of all sizes to participate in one network for improved patient care. Panner highlighted how interoperability can be life-altering. For example, giving patients the ability to easily access and share their medical imaging can enable them to seek a second opinion and find alternative options outside of their own region.
Previously, the CommonWell Health Alliance had announced the general availability of the CareQuality Connection. The connection will allow CommonWell and Carequality-enabled healthcare providers, through some of the industry’s largest participating EHR vendors, to connect and bilaterally exchange health data to improve care coordination and delivery.
Panner also presented at the Amazon Web Services booth on Tuesday at the conference. He highlighted how many facilities of all sizes are moving to Cloud VNAs to unify access to imaging, improving interoperability and provider workflows. In a rapidly evolving imaging industry, standard PACS lack interoperability and the functionality required of modern image management practices. There are a few key factors influencing the shift to cloud VNA, including an increasing amount of healthcare data, data that is being used for new research and AI projects, patients demanding increased accessibility, and disaster recovery becoming a new priority. This trend for improved interoperability has also gone global and using AWS architecture, Ambra was able to replicate its on-premises U.S. disaster recovery environment and easily scale it to meet the needs of its global customer base.
Ambra Health’s VP of Business Development, Andrew Duckworth, shared similar insights regarding data unification at the Google Cloud Booth on Tuesday morning at the conference. Leveraging Google Cloud’s Healthcare API, the Ambra Health Cloud PACS solution for Google Cloud allows researchers to turn data into insights by easily de-identifying patient medical imaging data for use in research studies.
What conversations did you overhear at HIMSS19? Do you think interoperability across US healthcare still has a long way to go?