Interoperability poised to take a giant leap forward

With the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's putting heavy emphasis on information exchange and a rumored collaboration between electronic health record heavyweights Cerner and McKesson, interoperability, no doubt, is a hot topic heading into the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's annual conference in New Orleans next week.

Although the Cerner-McKesson deal hasn't been confirmed, the two companies last week announced that they would hold a joint press conference in and in-depth discussion in New Orleans on Monday, March 4, featuring Cerner CEO Neal Patterson and McKesson CEO John Hammergren that promises to "unveil a game-changing industry development" that focuses on "interoperability."

Clearly, collaboration by the two companies to make their systems interoperable for the purpose of national health information exchange would fit that bill.

Several educational sessions and a roundtable session at the conference also will focus on the trend.

A pair of concurrent sessions on Monday, March 4, at 12:15 p.m., will focus on the reality and future of health information exchange and interoperability challenges unrelated to technology.

The former roundtable session aims to help healthcare organizations "develop a roadmap for health information exchange success." The latter educational session, meanwhile, will be more of a retrospective look at how the UMass Memorial Healthcare System overcame operational restructuring and culture change issues on the way to implementing a "large scale interoperability project."

On the conference's final day, ONC officials Farzad Mostashari, Jodi Daniel, Doug Fridsma and Claudia Williams are hosting an HIE Town Hall to inform attendees about "current and planned health information exchange initiatives."

Should the Cerner-McKesson announcement live up to its hype, it'll be interesting to hear ONC's response. Either way, the interoperability conversation is one that will be sure to continue long after the conference.


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