HIMSS19 keynoters challenge private sector to keep pace with FHIR, open APIs

By Tom Sullivan
04:13 PM
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Former U.S. CTO Aneesh Chopra said that CMS embracing FHIR means an end to any fight over data standards.
HIMSS19 Keynote speakers.

ORLANDO – HIMSS CEO Hal Wolf of Tuesday outlined the most pressing challenges healthcare in America and other countries face today.

Those are an aging population, the chronic disease burden, geographic displacement, a lack of actionable information, challenged funding systems, increasingly demanding consumers and growing staff shortages.

“That demands we use digital health as a great equalizer that allows each person to have access to the best care they can,” Wolf said during the opening keynote and panel discussion. “The vision is to fill the health potential of every human everywhere. Simple, important and difficult.”

Wolf cut to the chase asking CMS Administrator Seema Verma about the HHS information-blocking proposed rule that arrived yesterday.

“Another day at CMS is another day of disruption because we’re not trying to maintain the status quo,” Verma said. “The rule is about insurance companies. They have reams of claims data.”

Michael Leavitt, who served as both Secretary of Health and Human Services and Utah Governor, said the CMS proposed rule is a moment for healthcare to collectively move forward with a leap that is more than incremental.

“We need to see this rule as a call to action for the private sector,” Leavitt said. “For a long time the government has been behind the private sector, now the private sector is now behind the government. We need to take this opportunity to adapt, to improve, and refine.”

Former national coordinator Dr. Karen DeSalvo said this is an exciting time because the industry is not just talking about getting data in and out of EHRs anymore and, instead, looking at how consumers are going to drive this shift to new models of care.

“The shift in the way we’re thinking about data in this country is exciting, not just its availability but also what public health has known for a long time, that health is more than healthcare,” DeSalvo said. “We have to have more sources of data than just the EHR as a system of record.”  

Toward data interoperability, Verma added that CMS also gave a nod to FHIR in its proposed rule because agreeing on one standard can lower costs and give patients more access to their health information.

“The embrace of FHIR APIs means that we’re not going to have a Betamax-VHS fight in healthcare,” said Aneesh Chopra, President of CareJourney and the first CTO of the United States. “We now have an approach to adding more content on the data model. We’re done with the fight.”

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Email the writer: tom.sullivan@himssmedia.com