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HL7 Announces New Board Members, Fellows

September 13, 2017
by David Raths
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At its 31st Annual Plenary and Working Group Meeting in San Diego this week, HL7 International added members to its Board of Directors and Technical Steering Committee. It also announced the 2017 HL7 Fellows and the 2017 recipients of the its Volunteer of the Year Awards.

Four members were elected or re-elected to the Board of Directors for the 2018-2019 term:

•  Treasurer — Russell Leftwich, MD, senior clinical advisor for interoperability, InterSystems

•  Director — Walter Suarez, MD, MPH, executive director, health IT strategy & policy, Kaiser Permanente

•  Director — Jennifer Covich Bordenick, chief executive officer, eHealth Initiative

•  Affiliate Director — Line Saele, chair, HL7 Norway

Four members were elected or re-elected to the HL7 Technical Steering Committee the 2018-2019 term:

•  Domain Experts Steering Division — Floyd Eisenberg, MD

•  Foundation and Technology Steering Division — Russell Hamm

•  Structure & Semantic Design Steering Committee Division — Mary Kay McDaniel

•  Technical & Support Services Steering Division — Sandra Stuart

 

Seven individuals were presented with the HL7 Fellow Award, which was established to recognize HL7 members with at least 15 years of active membership as well as outstanding service, commitment and contributions to HL7. The 2017 recipients of the HL7 Fellowship Award include:

•  Chris Chute, MD

•  Kathleen Connor

•  Jane Daus

•  John Hatem

•  Nancy Orvis, MHA

•  Craig Parker, MD

•  John Ritter

•  Sandra Stuart

HL7 honored three members with the 21st annual W. Edward Hammond, PhD Volunteer of the Year Award. Established in 1997, the award is named after Dr. Ed Hammond, one of HL7’s most active volunteers and a founding member as well as past Board chair. The award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to HL7’s success. The 2017 recipients include:

•  Eric Haas, principal, Haas Consulting

•  Laura Heermann Langford, RN, PhD, nursing informatics director, Intermountain Healthcare

•  John Roberts, director, interoperability and standards, Tennessee Department of Health

 

About the Volunteers:

Eric Haas has been a member of HL7 since 2012. He actively participates in the Orders & Observations (O&O) and Public Health Work Groups. He has been instrumental in balloting the Electronic Laboratory Reporting to Public Health Release 2 (U.S. Realm) Implementation Guide for HL7’s Version 2.5.1 standard. This work resulted in a suite of laboratory guides from test compendium, through ordering, to results reporting to both the providers and public health. This provides a solid foundation to build core laboratory messaging in Version 2 for national adoption with specializations for ambulatory, public health, and soon to be followed with others.

Haas also successfully developed and balloted the HL7 Clinical Document Architecture Implementation Guide known as the Public Health Case Report, Release 2 (U.S. Realm) – the Electronic Initial Case Report. In addition, he has maintained the HL7 Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) resources for the O&O Work Group since its first release and developed the U.S. Lab FHIR profiles, based on the Version 2 guides developed in the O&O Work Group.

Laura Heermann Langford joined HL7 in 2007. As a volunteer, she co-chairs three HL7 work groups. She first began as a co-chair for the Emergency Care Work Group in 2018. Since then, she has become a co-chair for both the Patient Care (2013) and Healthcare Standards Integration (2015) Work Groups. As a clinician and in her role leading the care transitions project, Laura has actively promoted the clinical view of the impact of standards. She helps organize the Clinicians on FHIR Connectathon at the HL7 working group meetings. Finally, she plays an integral role on the planning team for the Clinical Information Interoperability Council, which is jointly sponsored by HL7 and HSPC.

John Roberts has been an HL7 member since 2001. He has served as co-chair for several work groups, including Public Health, over the years. He currently co-chairs the Templates and Learning Health Systems Work Groups. Roberts also serves as a co-chair of the Domain Experts Steering Division of HL7’s Technical Steering Committee.

 

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Epic Plans Meeting for Non-Epic Users on Data Sharing Capabilities

August 16, 2018
by Heather Landi
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Verona, Wis.-based Epic is inviting healthcare provider organizations that don’t use Epic’s electronic health record (EHR) to its “un-Users Group Meeting” at its Verona headquarters to learn how to exchange data with Epic.

The event, planned for September 26, will provide information to healthcare provider organizations about how to exchange charts with providers in their community who use Epic, even if providers use a different EHR— or no EHR at all.

According to Epic’s unUGM website, the event is for “executives and strategic leaders of provider organizations who want to learn and discuss how to exchange with providers in their community who use Epic.”

“Access to a patient’s information, regardless of where he or she has been seen, helps providers deliver the best patient care. The first Un-Users Group Meeting (unUGM) is another way we’re reaching out to the leaders of health systems using other EHRs—or even no EHRs—to help them get connected to the Epic users in their communities,” Dave Fuhrmann, Epic’s vice president of interoperability, said in a prepared statement.

According to the event agenda, topics of discussion include options for exchanging patient data with providers through Carequality, Care Everywhere, health information exchange (HIE) and Direct messaging, as well as patient-directed options, including MyChart, Share Everywhere, Lucy, and Blue Button.

There will also be discussion about interoperability success stories, using both non-Epic and Epic EHRs, and the current state of coordinated care in the U.S. and the use of existing tools to close care gaps, improve communication, and reduce costs.

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Amazon, Google, IBM and Other Tech Giants Pledge to Remove Barriers to Interoperability

August 14, 2018
by Heather Landi
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Six of the world's biggest technology companies, including Microsoft, Google, IBM and Amazon, made a joint pledge at the White House Monday to remove interoperability barriers and to make progress on adoption of health data standards.

The announced came during the Blue Button 2.0 Developer Conference in Washington, D.C. where Microsoft joined with Amazon, Google, IBM, Salesforce and Oracle to jointly commit to support healthcare interoperability by advancing healthcare standards such as HL7 (Health Level Seven International), FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources), and the Argonaut Project. They also pledged to remove interoperability barriers, particularly as it relates to the adoption of technologies enabled through the cloud and artificial intelligence (AI).

Dean Garfield, president and CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council, said in a statement, “Today’s announcement will be a catalyst to creating better health outcomes for patients at a lower cost. As transformative technologies like cloud computing and artificial intelligence continue to advance, it is important that we work towards creating partnerships that embrace open standards and interoperability.

“We commend the White House Office of American Innovation for their leadership in being a catalyst for moving health care beyond siloed systems and varied data standards. As well, we celebrate Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and Salesforce for their commitment to helping to advance open healthcare standard. The opportunity to unleash greater innovation in health care is here and working together we can seize it,” Garfield said.

In a joint statement, the technology companies made a commitment to remove barriers to “frictionless data exchange,” noting that they share “the common quest to unlock the potential in healthcare data, to deliver better outcomes at lower costs.”

The commitment specifically states:

“In engaging in this dialogue, we start from these foundational assumptions: The frictionless exchange of healthcare data, with appropriate permissions and controls, will lead to better patient care, higher user satisfaction, and lower costs across the entire health ecosystem.

Healthcare data interoperability, to be successful, must account for the needs of all global stakeholders, empowering patients, healthcare providers, payers, app developers, device and pharmaceuticals manufacturers, employers, researchers, citizen scientists, and many others who will develop, test, refine, and scale the deployment of new tools and services.

Open standards, open specifications, and open source tools are essential to facilitate frictionless data exchange. This requires a variety of technical strategies and ongoing collaboration for the industry to converge and embrace emerging standards for healthcare data interoperability, such as HL7 FHIR and the Argonaut Project.

We understand that achieving frictionless health data exchange is an ongoing process, and we commit to actively engaging among open source and open standards communities for the development of healthcare standards, and conformity assessment to foster agility to account for the accelerated pace of innovation.”

Gregory J. Moore M.D., Ph.D., vice president of healthcare, Google Cloud, said in a statement, “We are pleased to join others in the technology and healthcare ecosystem in this joint commitment to remove barriers and create solutions for the adoption of technologies for healthcare data interoperability. This will enable the delivery of high quality patient care, higher user satisfaction, and lower costs across the entire healthcare ecosystem.”

Patients should have access to their data, said Mark Dudman, head of global product and AI development, IBM Watson Health, in a statement following the announced commitment. Patients also should have the flexibility to use products and services across different healthcare systems, with confidence that they all are working seamlessly for their care, he said. “We are proud to participate in this pledge and look forward to working with industry and the developer community to ensure appropriate access to data and the use of that data to support vibrant communities and solve health challenges for people everywhere.”

In a blog post, Josh Mandel, chief architect, Microsoft Healthcare, notes that interoperability is an overlapping set of technical and policy challenges, from data access to common data models to information exchange to workflow integration – and these challenges often pose a barrier to healthcare innovation.

Mandel, who previously worked at Google Life Sciences and on the research faculty at Boston Children’s Hospital where he worked on the SMART Health IT Platform, notes that support for the Meaningful Use Common Clinical Data Set grows and it is becoming easier to plug new tools into clinical workflows, analyze clinical histories, collect new data, and coordinate care.” Many of these technical capabilities have been available within small, tight-knit health systems for a long time – but developing these capabilities has required complex, custom engineering and ongoing maintenance and support. Driving toward open architecture makes adoption faster, easier and cheaper,” he wrote.

True interoperability in healthcare requires end-to end solutions, rather than independent pieces, which may not work together, Mandel wrote. “Transforming healthcare means working together with organizations across the ecosystem. Today’s joint interoperability statement reflects the feedback from our healthcare customers and partners, and together we will lay a technical foundation to support value-based care.”

 

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Industry Stakeholders Urge ONC to Move Forward on Information Blocking Rules

August 8, 2018
by Heather Landi
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In a strongly worded letter to National Coordinator Donald Rucker, M.D., several healthcare and health IT industry groups expressed frustration with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s lack of progress in publishing information blocking regulations, as required in the 21st Century Cures Act.

“It has been 601 days since the 21st Century Cures Act was signed into law. Every day that the administration delays implementation of these critical provisions places patients at risk of harm,” the letter states. Stakeholders including Health IT Now, Research!America, Oracle, the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA), the American Academy of Family Physicians, Cambia Health Solutions and Claim Your Health Data Coalition signed the letter dated August 6.

In the letter, addressed to both Dr. Rucker and Daniel Levinson, inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the stakeholder groups note that the 21st Century Cures Act, which was enacted in December 2016, requires the HHS Secretary to “issue regulations to prevent information blocking and to also identify reasonable and necessary activities that do not constitute information blocking.” Further, the law requires ONC to implement a standardized process for the public to submit reports on claims of health information technology products or developers of such products not being interoperable or resulting in information blocking and actions that result in information blocking. “The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has enforcement authority over vendors and providers who are found to engage in information blocking,” the letter states.

The stakeholder groups also contend that “information blocking poses a significant risk to patient safety and greatly contributes to increased costs and waste in the health care system.”

According to reporting from Politico, during ONC’s 2nd Interoperability Forum this week in Washington, D.C., Rucker told the form audience that ONC is still working on the rule. The rule’s release has been delayed several times and is not expected to be released in September.

“Rucker emphasized Monday that his goal is to make protocols and standards that would let large amounts of health data flow easily between health providers, not just individual patient charts. He and other officials emphasized that ONC’s work is all being done within the confines of HIPAA,” the Politico article stated. Rucker also noted that properly defining which behaviors do and don’t constitute information blocking is “hard to sort out,” and the rule is a “work in progress,” Politico reported.

In a separate statement regarding ONC's delay in issuing an information blocking proposed rule, Douglas Fridsma, M.D., Ph.D., AMIA president and CEO, said, "Information blocking is the absence of interoperability, and there are numerous reasons why information may not flow as intended. Some of these reasons are technical, others for business or policy reasons. The socio-technical interoperability stack is complex and so too is the task of identifying which among its layers is responsible for information blocking. This rule must be critically calibrated to account for these layers, and it must be part of a larger conversation about how we will address other aspects of the socio-technical interpretability stack. Now is the time to initiate this broad conversation through release of the proposed information blocking rule."

In the letter, the industry groups also cautioned that “information blocking impedes provider access to the most current, accurate or complete information on their patients. As the administration proposes and implements new rules related to open APIs and interoperability in Medicare’s payment rules for hospitals and doctors, the lack of clear rules of the road needlessly creates uncertainty for vendors and providers alike.”

“We understand the nuance required but feel that it is past time for a proposal to be made,” the stakeholder groups wrote in the letter.

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