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Insights on Meaningful Use

March 5, 2013
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Interoperability and standards are key to sharing data

In his closing keynote on a session on meaningful use on Sunday, Mark Probst, vice president of information systems and CIO of Intermountain Healthcare, expressed optimism that the healthcare industry on the right track on improving patient care and coordination of care providers. Probst, who is also a member of the HHS Health Information Technology Policy Committee, also advocated a holistic approach to improving healthcare. He noted that interoperability and standardization is key to allowing that to happen.

Intermountain, a large integrated health system, uses three electronic health record systems and provides healthcare to about half the Utah population, he noted.

Innovation is important in healthcare, as in any other industry, he said, adding integration is crucial “if we are going to fix healthcare.” Probst spoke of the three stages of meaningful use—Stage 1, data capture and sharing; Stage 2, advanced clinical processes; and Stage 3, improved outcomes—and said noting that the process isn’t easy.

Success will depend on the IT infrastructure in place. Interoperability is going to be key, he said, and standards have to be in place. “I don’t think we are getting there fast enough,” he said.

Probst said it’s the role of the government to define and enforce standards, and adding that vendors need to have time to get the standards in place. “It we get the standards in place, we can get interoperability,” he said. He sees a need for standards for patient identification, security and access, clinical decision support using standard algorithms, terminology and query language, and clinical element models that take data and put it in a form that can be used by any system.

Best practices in healthcare is knowledge and great knowledge is being created, he said. He sees a need to share knowledge and to figure out ways to share the data. 

He says meaningful use can be a platform for digitally improving quality, healthcare, and controlling costs. But it’s also important to keep in mind that it isn’t just a question of using data, a holistic approach is needed to improve healthcare, he said.

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