Interoperability showcase a 'must see'

By Mike Miliard
02:01 PM
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It's one of the lingering and frustrating challenges facing healthcare: interoperability. For all the progress this industry has made when it comes to adopting technology, it's still got some work to do when it comes to getting disparate systems and devices to talk to each other, thus enabling more connected care.

The good news? We're at a pivotal moment, with IT advances helping make true data ubiquity an ever closer reality.

At the day-long pre-conference symposium on Feb. 23, The Interoperability Explosion: Where We Are and Where We're Headed, HIMSS14 attendees will explore the ways forward, starting with a keynote from Doug Fridsma, MD, chief science officer and director of the office of science and technology at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, and Joyce Sensmeier, vice president of informatics at HIMSS.

They'll show how technological progress and encouraging moves toward cooperation are finally making interoperability a reality, thanks in large part to the efforts of ONC, HIMSS and Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise. They'll also explain how meaningful use and health reform are helping to force the issue.

Suitably encouraged by those Sunday sessions, attendees can attend at least eight more education sessions focused on IT interoperability, device integration and standards throughout the week.

They can also see it all in action at the renowned Interoperability Showcase, which "has been completely redesigned for this year," according to Sandra Vance, senior director of interoperability initiatives at HIMSS.

This year, the showcase will feature a walk-through scenario featuring a fictional "family of patients who have been in a a car accident," said Vance. "Folks will be able to see how the patient information goes from point of care to point of care."

The showcase features more than 100 different clinical information systems, linked up and working together in "simulated clinical environments to show these patients' stories," she said. "It's split up into vignettes of care: there may be an ICU that represents how a patient has gone into intensive care, or the patients come into the emergency department."

As always, the showcase offers an up-close look at how these critical technologies work. "One of the really great things about the interoperability showcase is it allows the system users to talk to the system developers," said Vance. "We have on site a lot of the really deep technical folks, who work on the code of these systems and work on implementing standards-based interoperability into their source code. That dialogue is really important to maintain, between industry and providers."

The Interoperability Showcase, the product of months of planning and many days of on-site set-up, is "definitely a must-see for the conference," she said.