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Health Systems Invited to Address IT Interoperability Issues

By Mandy Roth  
   October 18, 2018

The Sequoia Project forms a national cooperative focusing on information blocking and other concerns.

Health systems interested in solving health IT interoperability issues, including the opportunity to address concerns related to the soon-expected information blocking ruling, are invited to have a seat at the table of Interoperability Matters, a new initiative from The Sequoia Project, a non-profit dedicated to solving health IT interoperability for the public good.

This new public-private cooperative welcomes experts from healthcare and healthcare IT communities to identify, prioritize, and collaborate on the most pressing, discrete challenges to nationwide health information sharing.

“This is a great opportunity for health systems to get more involved with our work," says Mariann Yeager, CEO of The Sequoia Project. "They can have a seat at the table side-by-side with public policy experts, information blocking SMEs [subject matter experts], vendors, service providers, patient groups, and others. We want the entire community – including health systems – to solve this together.”

Information blocking will be the first order of business for the Interoperability Matters forum in anticipation of the proposed rule from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. Additional priorities and workgroups will be identified at the upcoming Sequoia Project Annual Meeting, but are expected to include patient matching and improving clinical content in information exchange.

“Distinguishing legitimate policy differences from information blocking requires deep understanding of complex policy, technical, and business issues,” said Yeager in a news release. “Our Interoperability Matters cooperative will focus on the practical implications of information sharing practices, and it will inform information blocking public policy.”

Those interested in becoming involved can apply on the Interoperability Matters webpage.

“All health systems are encouraged to get involved," says Yeager. "The cooperative will work together to identify, prioritize and solve specific issues. By getting involved from the start, health systems can have their concerns raised and addressed."

While the groundwork to enable health information exchange has been laid by organizations like Carequality, CommonWell, DirectTrust, eHealth Exchange and health information exchange organizations (HIEs), says Yeager, “There are remaining real and perceived barriers to making exchange more effective and seamless.”

The Interoperability Matters advisory group will prioritize critical issues that have the potential to improve nationwide health information exchange. Healthcare subject matter experts and critical stakeholders from across the private sector and government will form the Interoperability Matters workgroups.

An advisory group will meet regularly to review the progress of workgroups, make recommendations, and provide feedback. After receiving advisory group input, workgroups will share their recommendations for public input to obtain even broader feedback. The final work product, according to The Sequoia Group, "will be a consensus-built resource and plan of action for the healthcare sector to leverage and implement to minimize or eliminate that barrier."

Mandy Roth is the innovations editor at HealthLeaders.

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