Federal Partners Discuss Health IT

The HHS Office of the National Coordinator’s www.healthit.gov 2017 Annual Meeting held in Washington D.C November 30-December 1, 2017, featured keynotes, panels, and breakout sessions discussing many issues related to interoperability and usability.

National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Keynoter Don Rucker, MD opened the Annual Meeting, “Dealing with biological complexities involves a great deal as specialists needs can differ greatly and tasks can be complex. He suggested accomplishing tasks in the field are not determined so much by politics as the need to have serious discussions on burden reduction, usability, and interoperability.”

The panel “Federal Commitment to Health IT” moderated by ONC’s Director of Policy, Elise Anthony brought several Federal Partners together for a conversation on their agency’s present day activities and goals. The panel discussion emphasized the need to work together but also the necessity to meet the challenges facing the military, veterans, and the general population.

Dr. Lauren Thompson, Director of the DOD/VA Interagency Program Office for the Department of Defense https://www.oit.va.gov/org/ipo, mentioned how the use of smartphones today empowers patients as never before. Today, other tools will move medical care forward if doctors and patients are able to receive the right information at the right time during the care cycle.

“The VA must be able to look at population health collectively by effectively using artificial intelligence and machine learning to achieve better healthcare reports,” Dr. Jonathan Nebeker, Deputy CMIO Veterans Health Administration, for the VA.

“Today syndromic surveillance greatly matters at the CDC www.cdc.gov as the CDC needs to receive early alerts for health events and be able to track symptoms before a diagnosis is confirmed”, according to Dr. Chesley Richards, CDC Deputy Director for Public Health Scientific Services and Director for Health Scientific Services, at CDC.  “Public health departments need to effectively use technology such as EHRs to track and send data quickly back to CDC.”

Mathew Quinn, Senior Advisor of Health Technology HRSA www.rsa.gov, reports that HRSA uses advanced technology to support many programs in place to help the underserved by utilizing grant funding and cooperative agreements.

He said, “One of the most important goals for the agency is to have HRSA’s programs interact with other programs in the agency and the outside world. In order to do this, technology needs to function together to provide technical assistance to grantees, to support health centers, and effectively use technology to improve quality.”

“The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) www.ssa.gov health IT program brings the speed and efficiency of EMRs to the disability determination process” reports Kit Winter, Director of the Health IT Program Office, for SSA. Health IT works with three million initial disability claims a year requiring vital medical information. The workload is heavy and SSA must rely heavily on technology.

For example, Johns Hopkins Medicine https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org is collaborating with SSA to electronically send complete secure medical records for Social Security Disability applicants. This has made it possible for SSA to receive medical records within minutes or hours as compared to weeks before the manual process was used.


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