Friday, December 30, 2011

Looking back at 2011...

2011 has been an interesting year for healthcare information technology. Starting in February with the launch of Direct Project pilot there has been continued momentum for health information exchange and a strong push for interoperability. Less than a year from the birth of the project, having real world implementation is lightening speed for a government sponsored effort. The Direct Project has been a remarkable success story and will have long lasting impact on health information exchange. In April I helped facilitate the DirectProject Boot Camp, which was a remarkable success.

Also in February, the annual HIMSSconference was a usual highlight of the year. There was a focus on new payment and delivery models and the health IT infrastructure necessary to enable the future of healthcare, as well as a great deal of mobile healthcare applications and other innovative solutions demonstrated. One of best parts is always the Interoperability Showcase, and this year had some really great demonstrations. The new HIT X.0 format was exciting and I am looking forward to seeing how this develops in the future. Perhaps my favorite part was the increasing status of the social media efforts. The Social Media Pavilion seems to be growing by leaps and bounds and I expect next year to be bigger than ever.

In April we saw the changingof the guard at ONC as Farzad Mostashari took the helm from the departing David Blumenthal. It was widely expected that Dr. Blumenthal would only lead the agency for two years. Blumenthal had cast the vision for PHR adoption and implementation of health IT and I believe that Dr. Mostashari is the ideal person to listen to the next phase. There is been a huge increase this year and the number of providers and hospitals registering for meaningful use incentive payments. With over $2 billion paid out this year so far, I expect the 2012 will be a very big year for the ONC.

In June the IOM and HHS hosted the HealthData Initiative Forum to accelerate momentum for the public use of data and innovation to improve health. There was an amazing array of sessions, which were webcast live, and a truly outstanding set of speakers and panel presentations. There were fast-paced Ignite style demonstrations of a variety of innovative technology solutions.

In July we launched our own DirectProject pilot. As our local health information exchange efforts have gone forward we have been blessed with a strong sense of collaboration from area stakeholders. Gorge Health Connect Inc. also achieved status as a 501(c) three charitable organization with the IRS. This was no small feat and I'm very pleased at our progress on governance and designing our technical architecture. The partnership with our vendor Medicity has been excellent and I am looking forward to watching the data flow 2012.

Also in July was the first ever Health Foo in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The best summary I've seen of that amazing weekend is by Susannah Fox. O’Reilly Media and Robert Woods Johnson Foundation gathered a mind blowing stew of thought leaders. This was one of the brightest group of people I have ever been exposed to and it was an honor to participate.

NationalHealth IT Week  was in September with continued strong efforts at advocacy for the health IT community. One of the highlights of the week was the launch of a Consumer Health IT Program by the ONC to support greater consumer engagement in health and healthcare via information technology. The ONC’s focus on consumer engagement really gained steam this year, especially with the work of Lygeia Ricciardi, Senior Policy Advisor on Consumer eHealth. This was followed in October by the Putting the 'IT' in Care Transitions event, which brought together thought leaders from around the country to work on some of the most pressing issues facing our healthcare system.

Health reform and health IT go hand in hand as the linchpin of efforts to reforming our healthcare system is technology enabled. And my greatest disappointment by far in 2011 was the departure of Don Berwick from CMS. He cast a vision for investment and research in information technology leading to accountable care organizations, medical homes and other innovations in delivery and payment models. However, I am hopeful that he may actually be able to accomplish more released from the bonds of government service. His farewell speech The Moral Test:Remember the Patient is must reading for anyone interested in healthcare.

The creation of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation will be an enduring legacy of Dr. Berwick’s work at CMS. Their mission to transform Medicare/Medicaid by improving the healthcare delivery system as well as implementing new models of payment will have wide ranging impact for the next generation. The HealthCare Innovation Challenge is one place I expect to see some significant results.

These are really just a handful of the events over this remarkable year in health IT. I felt like I should write something before the year was up, so these are only some highlights that came to mind this morning. There is a great deal more that has happened which will springboard us into an amazing future for our healthcare system. Maybe I'm overly optimistic, but I truly believe that we're in the midst of a hinge point in history. Years from now I believe we will see that the changes underway lady a foundation that enabled improvements in innovative solutions we can now only barely imagine. I am looking forward to this next year…

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