Sowing the Seeds of a Better Future

By Wylecia Wiggs Harris, PhD, CAE

As I write this column, healthcare professionals of every discipline are working to bring their organizations into compliance with the provisions in the information blocking and interoperability final rules, which were put forth by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), respectively.

In practical terms, these final rules promise significant improvement in health data access and interoperability for every healthcare stakeholder—from patients and providers to technology vendors and payers.

Much rides on the word “promise.”

Advancing interoperability and data exchange will require the good-faith efforts of electronic health record (EHR) vendors, providers, and health application developers. However, established behaviors, current market incentives, and reliance on the status quo will be difficult to shake loose, especially at a time darkened by uncertainty.

Meeting the basic imperatives of the Cures Act is not the end of a process, but the first step in a much longer journey toward an interoperable, person-centered healthcare system.

AHIMA is ready to lead that journey by equipping health information professionals with the necessary resources to adapt to new realities, while also empowering them to provide evidence-based expertise to professionals in every domain of the healthcare ecosystem.

In its October issue, the Journal of AHIMA publishes a curated collection of articles on implementing the information blocking and interoperability final rules, including:

  • The need-to-know provisions of the final rules and an outline of a road map toward compliance
  • An exploration of how the pandemic has accelerated the implementation of virtual care services, exposing the critical need for high-quality, high-bandwidth, robust, bidirectional data exchange
  • Assessing to what extent providers and payers are ready to respond to the sweeping changes of the final rules
  • Three ways analytics-fueled interoperability is crucial during COVID-19 and beyond—including the establishment of a single source of truth, mitigating care disparities, and strengthening care collaboration
  • Exploring the key steps to help ensure your organization is adequately prepared to meet pending interoperability timelines
  • A closer look at the standardized application programming interface (API) infrastructure that is at the heart of the final rules

Additionally, health information professionals seeking to learn more about information blocking compliance can access a free on-demand AHIMA webinar that breaks down the provisions and certification and compliance requirements of the recently finalized rules. 21st Century Cures Act: Interoperability, Information Blocking, and the ONC Health IT Certification Program Final Rule is presented by Elise Sweeney Anthony, executive director, and Elisabeth Myers, deputy director, office of policy at the ONC.

The AHIMA20 Virtual Conference Is Here

Planning a global healthcare conference isn’t easy even under the best of circumstances, so when it became clear that AHIMA would need to navigate the complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic, our staff geared up to tackle the challenge.

Our organization was tasked with transforming our largest in-person event to a unique virtual and interactive experience. While we will miss seeing old faces and meeting new friends in our wonderful host city of Atlanta, GA, I could not be more excited to launch the AHIMA20 Virtual Conference.

Whether you are seeking cutting-edge education, evaluating the latest market innovations, or want to foster new professional connections, the AHIMA20 Virtual Conference is the place to be.

I hope you will take the time to register today. Please be sure to visit our News and Announcements page to learn more about our education domains, robust sessions, dynamic exhibiting companies, and the dedicated AHIMA staff who have put this extraordinary transformation on the cusp of reality. Be sure to listen to our latest podcast on navigating the AHIMA20 Virtual Conference.

I look forward to seeing you there and taking another step toward a brighter future.

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