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Reflections and Shout-outs from ONC's 2018 Annual Meeting in Washington, DC

ONCThe ONC is the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.  Every year, ONC hosts an Annual Meeting to convene health IT leaders from across the country to discuss the current state of affairs in interoperability, technical standards, and many other topics.  I attended the event as a leader of, a cloud-based community care coordination platform, and was pleased to see social determinants of health given such a high priority on the agenda this year.

As someone decidedly focused on the communication divide between health systems, community based organizations, and patients, I have to say that I was happy to attend a half dozen sessions that were wholly tuned to addressing this divide.  It was a pleasure to get a chance to connect with more people and organizations doing important work in this space.

Some shoutouts to people doing great work:

  • Kelly Hoover: Kelly is the CEO of the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative (SHIEC), an association of HIEs.  More HIEs are tackling cross-sector communication.  Nice work in Georgia, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and the other states you are innovating in.  We are working with some innovative HIEs including NCHIIN – excited to compare notes with you all!
  • John Ohanian: John is the CEO of San Diego 211, and we continue to be impressed with the thought leadership coming from John and his team.  John, your CIE Toolkit is a wonderful asset that will help to define the evolution of this space.
  • Michael Wilkening: Michael is California's State Health and Human Services Secretary who continues to demonstrate an impressive "take no prisoners" leadership approach.  Two examples:
    • Innovation is often stymied by the challenge of getting data sharing agreements in place across sectors and stakeholders.  You have challenged the state to overcome these hurdles expeditiously.  I know that has allowed many of our California-based Whole Person Care programs to get quick wins, gain traction, and impact people’s lives.
    • Speaking the truth to why data matters.  When you were faced with budget questions and cuts, your response was, “How many people are we touching when we cut programs – how many lives are we impacting?" We need more leaders taking a human approach to health policy for all people in our communities. 

As with anything, our state of affairs in health IT has some work to do.  Here's some of what I wish there was more of, and what I would love to see ONC and HHS to please help guide the way on:

  • Interoperable workflows for home- and community-based services.  Let's push EHR vendors to make it possible to integrate SDOH updates into clinical workflow.  An aside: Arun Natarajan and Liz Palena-Hall – the work you are doing on data elements is great!
  • Guidance on data sharing and confidentiality when sharing information across sectors.  One speaker at the event, who I can’t attribute the quote to, said it best with: “We have HIPAA for healthcare, FERPA for schools, but when we talk community-based data, we have NOPA.”  No policy guidance won't cut it any longer, especially with CBOs partnering with healthcare and community health partners at an increasing clip.

About’s cloud-based community care coordination platform connects patients, families, care teams, and community partners on the journey to health and well-being. With, everyone can act together to make health happen, wherever they are.

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