HLN’s Noam Arzt and Michael Suralik attended the tenth ONC Annual Meeting held on January 27-28 in Washington, DC. More than 1,200 individuals attended in person supplemented by remote attendees for the plenary sessions. Throughout the two-day event, ONC provided interesting speakers, engaging panels on a variety of topics, and ample time to network with colleagues and friends.
Clearly the theme of this conference was the patient, and putting patient access to information at the center of activity. Sessions covered everything from consent and patient matching policies and strategies (including some Congressional comments), to social determinants of health (SDOH), to the opioid epidemic. While not prominent on the agenda, the emerging Coronavirus was very much on people’s minds. And due to the timing of government regulatory review, the much-anticipated final Information Blocking rule was not yet available and was not discussed (short of some strong admonition by Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Epic’s written objections to the proposed rule, and some brief comments by Dr. Don Rucker, the National Coordinator for HealthIT). There were announcements that the draft of the ONC 2020-2025 Strategic HealthIT Plan had been released and that everyone was encouraged to review the plan and submit feedback but the plan was not discussed in any detail.
However, there was lots of discussion about FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) as the next greatest technology for interoperability. There was a nice session on FHIR and Public Health, and also some interesting discussion of “bulk” FHIR, which enables exchange of more than one record at a time, to satisfy public health and population health use cases. And there were many other FHIR sessions as well. Given this focus, it is not surprising that the current technical discussion over TEFCA, the new national interoperability initiative, centers around a disagreement over whether more mature standards typified by IHE transactions and clinical documents should be drawn upon for further implementation or whether emerging FHIR transactions should be adopted instead.
Recording of the webcasts from the conference are available now, and copies of slides should be available in the near future.
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