DeSalvo sets her sights on big data

DeSalvo said the emphasis over the next ten years should be on the ability to query and retrieve data
By Diana Manos
11:13 AM
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ONC chief Karen DeSalvo, MD

ONC chief Karen DeSalvo said it’s time for ONC to drive healthcare beyond the meaningful use of electronic health records toward the use of big data.

“We have done a great job in the past ten years to get where we are, but I am really excited about the next decade to advance this notion to get data beyond meaningful use and advancing interoperability,” she said Thursday in a keynote on Capitol Hill. DeSalvo spoke at a luncheon series hosted by the Capitol Hill Steering Committee on Telehealth and Healthcare Informatics–part of the HIMSS Foundation’s Institute for eHealth Policy.

DeSalvo said the emphasis over the next ten years should go more from pushing data to an emphasis on the ability to query and retrieve data.

“The meaningful use space is almost endless in the ways we need to use it today, whether for public health, disaster or improving populations, but also to create a learning system, one that is able to enhance the knowledge base so that nobody gets left behind,” DeSalvo said. “By 2024, we are very hopeful that’s the kind of environment we’re going to have.”

With the advent of meaningful use stage 3, ONC’s task now is to advance the meaningful use agenda and it’s an opportunity to really move the data freely, including new data from outside the EHR sphere, she said. Data needs to move freely and bi-directionally, and ONC should help build a platform that includes information from outside of the EHR sphere, to include big data such as genomics, social determinants of health, and patient or consumer-generated data.

The use of this type of big data is “setting the stage to dramatically change the way we think about standard data capture,” she said.

DeSalvo said ONC is looking at all of its opportunities within its authorities and its programs to drive that interoperability agenda. She said “the underpinnings of EHRs” need to be reconfigured to support the purposes of big data.

ONC is “on fire about this” new agenda, she said, buoyed by the successes already seen from the meaningful use program. ONC is working on a conceptual framework for release this spring that DeSalvo hopes will launch a nationwide discussion on interoperability, big data use, the influx of patient-generated data and the security that needs to surround it.

DeSalvo said ONC wants federal partners and the private sector to be part of the discussion for advancing this agenda.

“The opportunities ahead of us are endless and exciting,” she said.