Improving Healthcare through Information Exchange


10 years ago, your doctor likely recorded your medical information on paper, and it was problematic to send your records to a specialist when needed. It was annoying, but understandable, when your records didn’t show up as scheduled.  Now, after we’ve spent many billions to convert to electronic health records, the stage is set for healthcare in the information age, where your medical record is available to doctors that are trying to help you, and you can personally benefit from electronic health information and technology.

Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go. In a recent “call to action”, HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) observes the following:

While we have made great strides over the past generation, seamless, secure, nationwide interoperable health information exchange continues to elude us.

Last month, HIMSS launched a campaign to better inform policy makers and encourage the healthcare industry to improve through better interchange of information. They published the following action points:

  1. Demand Integration between the Interoperability Approaches and Trusted Exchange Frameworks for the Public Good;
  2. Educate the Community to Appropriately Implement Existing and Emerging Standards, Data Formats, and Use Cases to Ensure a Comprehensive, Integrated Approach to Care;
  3. Ensure Stakeholder Participation from Across the Care Continuum, Including Patients and Caregivers;
  4. Identify the “Minimum Necessary” Business Rules for Trusted Exchange to Enhance Care Coordination;
  5. Standardize and Adopt Identity Management Approaches; and,
  6. Improve Usability for Data Use to Support Direct Care and Research.

The bottom line is, we now have a foundation of electronic health information. We have a mature communication network that can securely move the information to where it is needed. We have data format standards so the systems understand the information. All that is lacking the collective will to make it happen. HIMSS is a force for good, applying pressure to government and industry to achieve better and more efficient healthcare through technology.

See the HIMSS public release here:

Kirstan Vandersluis