EHR Interoperability Stressed in DeSalvo’s Keynote Address | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

To conclude the 2015 HIMSS Annual Conference and Exhibition in Chicago that brought in 35,000 healthcare IT professionals, providers, and other key stakeholders, Dr. Karen B. DeSalvo, National Coordinator for Health IT, delivered a keynote address. EHR interoperability was a major topic of DeSalvo’s speech.

“It has been a great week here at HIMSS,” DeSalvo starts. “I’m so optimistic about the bright future that we have ahead to leverage health information technology and enable better health for everyone in this country.”


“Last year, I stood before you as a brand new National Coordinator and shared what I saw as the need to move our focus beyond adoption and focus on interoperability,” she said. “Unlocking the data can [put it] to many important uses demanded by consumers, hospitals, doctors, and others who are part of our learning health system. We’ve had a very busy year. We took the time to listen, to understand, and to shift our strategic focus to see that we can built upon the strong foundation that we all have built.”


“I personally had the chance to participate in or host two dozen listening sessions across the country. In those sessions, I was able to hear from people on the front lines about what matters most to them,” DeSalvo stated. “I became more and more optimistic as I heard how people are committed to see that we would leverage health IT to the advancement of everyone’s health.”


“In Alabama, adoption can still be a debate in some circles. They have challenges like lack of broadband access in rural communities. In New Jersey, the close proximity to other states and differing state privacy laws when crossing state lines has become an increasing challenge,” DeSalvo continued.


“In the Silicon Valley, the entrepreneurial community is moving past the notion of an electronic health record and is thinking about the next phase – the person-centered health records and the Internet. In places like Chicago and Minnesota, a history of collaboration showed me that when we let go of our own interests, communities move further when they work together instead of against each other and we can put priorities like the public’s health at the top of the agenda.”

DeSalvo also acknowledged her team who have attended HIMSS and spent time listening and discussing the challenges of EHR interoperability as well as the solutions that can improve nationwide data exchange.


“We [need to] continue the great progress and get to a place where every American has access to their electronic health information,” DeSalvo continued. “They, like me, remain steady and unwavering in that vision. Indeed, that was the vision more than a decade ago when President Bush signed an executive order and asked David Brailer to stand in the Office for the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. In 2009, Congress codified the role and we carry out those responsibilities every day on behalf of the people in this country.”

“The flurry of work in the five years since the HITECH Act, through a set of grant programs, certification programs, the EHR Incentive Programs, has brought us all to a tipping point. Today we know that adoption is strong.”


“We have much work to do to digitize the care experience across the entire care continuum. We also have to see that we achieve true interoperability – not only exchange,” DeSalvo said. “What became clear quickly is that we need to develop a strategic approach that would leverage health IT beyond electronic health records using levers beyond meaningful use to bring not only better healthcare but better health.”