HIMSS15: Can interoperability go from idea to reality?

Interoperability is one of those words you can't avoid if you work in the health IT industry, and its use is only going to grow as 2015 wears on.

It's a controversial topic, with most agreeing it is essential if healthcare technology is to move forward, but others adding that it won't be achieved in the current healthcare environment. Many are calling on industry and government to work together to create better transparency and interoperability.

To that end, interoperability is a key focus of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT. The government agency in January released its 10-year Interoperability Roadmap. The roadmap's goal is to provide steps to be taken in both the private and public sectors to create an interoperable health IT ecosystem over the next decade, according to ONC.

The push from the ONC to focus on interoperability comes as the agency looks to move past Meaningful Use.

As thousands gather in Chicago in April for HIMSS15, the topic of interoperability will kick off with a keynote at Sunday's preconference Health Information Exchange Symposium. ONC Interoperability Portfolio Manager Erica Galvez will address the agency's roadmap and how the government is working with the healthcare industry to make interoperability reality; there also will be a roadmap discussion run by Galvez and Steven Posnack, ONC's director of the Office of Standards and Technology, on Monday.

Additionally, on Wednesday, Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative President and CEO Micky Tripathi and Epic President Carl Dvorak will lead a session on HL7's Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard. Another panel discussion Thursday will pinpoint how to address patient information in electronic health records pulled from different clinical systems.