This past year, I completed a tour of duty with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).   I served as coordinator for standards related to Consolidated CDA, quality measures (HQMF) and results reporting (QRDA) that are now part of Meaningful Use Stage 2.  These standards, along with Direct Project and standardized vocabularies, will contribute to Health Information Exchange that works. I’m proud of the ONC and the community that delivered these standards.  It’s a breakthrough with significant benefit to the United States.  But it’s also only a start. The need for better Health IT solutions hits home Three days after completing my work with ONC, my wife Julie found out she had breast cancer.  We have spent every day since in the struggle for her health and survival.  We had the usual frustrations with coordinating her […]

You may recall from my last post that I’m a huge proponent of Health IT. You may also recall that it’s personal. My wife has breast cancer. She and I have seen HealthIT’s tremendous benefits and recognize much of its untapped potential. Today I am happy to report that the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), in conjunction with the National Cancer Institute (NCI), recently launched the Cancer Care Video Challenge. The goal of the challenge, according to its website is “to generate personal stories that will motivate and inspire others to use health IT and consumer eHealth tools to achieve better health.” This challenge is a great call to action. It will further help an industry already trying to improve patient outcomes. Do you have a personal story about cancer and Health IT? Share your […]

In my previous post, I didn’t address much of the industry discussion about Electronic Health Record (EHR) usability:  What, exactly, is usability in the first place?  How do you measure it? How do you improve it? These questions are important for a couple of reasons: First, usability is a critical requirement for any software and should be a main focus of development. Second, the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) is establishing policy to attempt to improve EHR usability, making it a regulatory issue as well. Here’s some background on the second point for context.  When the government passed ARRA to help fund Health IT adoption, a primary issue raised by the healthcare community was that Health IT systems have many usability issues. So – as many people posed – if the government was going to mandate EHR adoption, shouldn’t […]

That was one of the key questions raised in Tuesday’s Health IT Meaningful Usability Summit 2012 in Washington, DC, part of National Health IT Week.  The summit attracted representatives from government, academia, payers, healthcare IT vendors, and non-profits. I was there representing Allscripts, where I serve as Director of User Experience. The summit attendees focused on a handful of key points related to usability:  safety and usability; radical industry transformation; open and modular systems and data; and a consumer focus in Health IT.  Let’s take a quick look at each of them in turn before I return to that headline. Safety and usability Dr. Jacob Reider, the acting Chief Medical Officer for the Office of the National Coordinator for Healthcare IT (ONC), and a former CMO of Allscripts, gave a presentation on usability of health IT that focused on safety.  Dr […]

This past year, I took a leave of absence from Allscripts to serve as the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) coordinator for Query Health, an Open Government Initiative that is establishing standards, policies and services for distributed population queries of clinical records.  It comes at a unique moment in time – at the confluence of broad deployment of Electronic Health Records, the compelling need for standards for secondary use of that healthcare information, and a Stage 3 Meaningful Use strategy that focuses on a “learning health system.”  That is, a system in which the vast array of health data can be  aggregated, analyzed, and leveraged using real-time algorithms and functions.   I’m thrilled to be back and sharing what I learned about what we can do to implement a learning health system that benefits patients on a national scale. Our work began in […]


Call me crazy … A Stage 2 Perspective

When I tell people that part of my job is to read regulations that were written by the government, the reactions I get vary from blank looks to sympathy to “better you than me.”  And when I tell them that I actually enjoy that part of my responsibilities, most think I’m joking.  The truth is, I love the process of healthcare regulatory promulgation.  As all of us who waited anxiously for the Meaningful Use Stage 2 NPRM can attest (pun intended), there is an awful lot of conversation that takes place as regulations are written. I find the back-and-forth invigorating.  Before a regulation is written, there are numerous Federal Advisory Committee (FACA) meetings to listen to, carefully scripted presentations by ONC and CMS, and private meetings requested by various stakeholders and industry associations.  It’s really a constant opportunity to learn […]

Dr. Mostashari’s Last-Minute Interoperability Challenge Allscripts, by partnering with Albany Medical Center, MedAllies and NextGen, handily won an interoperability challenge issued by Dr. Farzad Mostashari, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, at HIMSS last week.  Read Dr. Doug Fridsma’s post on ONC’s Health IT Buzz blog describing the event.  Mostashari’s surprise challenge was this: Send a document via protocols established by the ONC Direct Project along a pathway that has never been used. In other words, prove that Direct (a public/private collaborative focused on developing a scalable, secure, standards-based means of sending authenticated health information via the Internet) is live and working in general, and is not just a set of hard-coded demonstration systems working together. Allscripts and its team not only completed the task successfully but did so with time to spare. Important to note: “This used the test systems of […]