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    ONC turns to medical community to boost interoperability

    Benjamin S. Brooke, MD, PhD, heard from physicians across the professional spectrum that they weren’t getting or couldn’t easily access the information they needed to make decisions about their patients.

    The information, he was told, was either buried in notes compiled within electronic health records (EHR) systems or locked away in the technology.

    “We have a weakness in how we communicate information between providers,” he told Medical Economics.

    Brooke, a vascular surgeon and director of the Utah Intervention Quality & Implementation Research at the University of Utah School of Medicine, is leading one effort to improve the flow of information between primary care physicians and specialists.

    The University of Utah team created a dashboard that physicians can use with their EHRs to easily provide relevant patient information. Primary care physicians can use the application to select pertinent data to share with specialists as they refer patients for services, and specialists can do the same when sending patients back to their regular doctors for follow-up care.

    This dashboard, which is built on the emerging open Sustainable Medical Applications and Reusable Technologies (SMART) on FHIR standard, ensures the right information gets to the right clinician at the right time – a key component of interoperability, Brooke said.

    “This is a communication tool that could be used across different specialties and even across different health systems,” he added.

    ‘Key building blocks’ to improve information flow
    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) in September announced seven recipients of two cooperative agreement programs to improve the flow of health information. The awardees will share a total of $1.5 million to create standards-based solutions that facilitate the exchange of health information.

    Next: Improving the patient and provider experience

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