Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Innovation Key to Progress

“The only way that the power of innovation can be unleashed is by liberating data and using IT to provide the rocket fuel for innovation”, according to Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer, at HHS. “In order to achieve our goals, we need to develop timely clinical data decision support, integrate tools, use technologies to extend the physician’s reach to patients, engage consumers, support data mining, data networks, and analytics to produce better healthcare and outcomes.”

As the keynote speaker at the eHealth Initiative’s “2011 National Forum on Health Information Exchange” held July 14th, Park said the most effective innovations will come from new ideas to help solve real-life problems.

He described how the Direct Project enables a simple, secure, faster way for providers to send health information directly to recipients. As he explained, the basic purpose for the Direct Project is to find easy solutions for specific technological problems. So when doctors made it known they were looking for ways to push data from where it is located to where it is needed, organizations came together to participate in an open forum to solve the problem and find the solution.

As a result, a Direct Project pilot is underway at the Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) a premier Level 1 Adult and Pediatric Trauma Center in Minnesota. This pilot is first-in-the-nation Direct Project providing clinical exchange.

Ability, a company headquartered in Minneapolis is the Health Information Services Provider (HISP) that connects HCMC to the Minnesota Department of Health. Ability will expand this pilot project to additional providers and other states, including the Oklahoma State Department of Health which is already committed to participating in the program.

The Hudson Valley Initiative has issued three new issue briefs all dealing with various aspects of the Direct Project. The issue briefs include:

• In the issue brief “Beyond Babel: MedAllies Direct Brings a Provider-Driven Collaborative Solution to the Challenges of Interoperability”, John Blair III, MD MedAllies CEO and TIPA President offers an overview of the project
• Holly Miller MD, Chief Medical Officer at MedAllies focuses on the clinical implications of MedAllies Direct with the brief “Essential Information Available Immediately in the Right Dose: MedAllies Direct Delivers on the Promise of Quality Patient Care”
• In “Not So Elusive: MedAllies Direct “Advances Interoperability Allowing Clinicians to Share Data Across Systems, Across Providers, Across the Country”, MedAllies CIO Leroy “Lee” Jones addresses health IT issues including implications for providers, vendors, and HIEs

Park mentioned the success of another data connecting solution recently launched by NLM. MedlinePlus Connect enables health organizations and HIT providers to link patient portals and EHRs to for up-to-date health information for patients and families. This information is directly related to helping medical professionals make the correct diagnosis and provide correct medications and laboratory tests.

MedlinePlus Connect accepts information requests based on coding systems already used by EHRs and supports health IT standards used by certified EHR systems as part of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Program. A XML web service will be released in the near future to further expand MedlinePlus Connect’s flexibility.

Park announced that the HHS site is helping to liberate even more data and operates as a one-stop resource for innovators who are very busy turning data into new applications and services.

The website at provides free access to health-related data supplied by a wide range of federal agencies and is available to users for free. The website also links users to a new “Health Apps Expo”, hosted and managed by the private sector innovation experts at Health 2.0. The Apps Expo proves information to consumers, providers, employers, communities, policymakers, and others to help make informed decisions.

By using the website’s blogs and forums, users are able to open threads of conversation about the data and also link to current app development competitions on and where users can enter contests with the goal to develop even better health apps.

For more information on the eHealth Initiative Forum, go to