At the Texas Regional HIMSS conference, David Muntz, senior vice president and CIO at GetWellNetwork, offered some refreshingly provocative thoughts on the current state of the health IT industry.

“There is no more opportunity than in health IT,” he said. However, focus is the top challenge for health IT professionals because there is so much work to be done to support the caregiving team and also to meet the very challenging requirements of Meaningful Use.

While flawed, the former principal deputy at the ONCOffice of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) – Located within the Office of the Secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) coordinates nationwide ... More did illustrate significant achievements that are a result of Meaningful Use. Muntz said HITECHAs a part of the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) refers to the portion of the ARRA that is used to increase the use of Electronic Health Records (EHR) by ph... More has:

  • Stimulated the economy
  • Created jobs
  • Raised awareness of health IT
  • Started meaningful conversations in the boardroom, in the provider’s space and in public

Muntz said Meaningful Use should end at Stage 3. It is a wise idea, he said, to choose constrained healthcare standards as a starting point and expand from there. The required use of Consolidated CDAClinical Document Architecture (CDA) HL7 CDA uses XML for encoding of the documents and breaks down the document in generic, unnamed, and non-templated sections. Documents can include discharge summaries, progress notes, history and physical reports,... More and Direct ProjectThe Direct Project was launched by the ONC within Health and Human Services (HHS) on March 1, 2010. It was initially called NHIN Direct. The object of the Direct Project is to replace the use of faxes, phones, and paper transactions with a simple and... More in Stage 2 both seem to meet that criteria.

The next frontier for healthcare and health IT, he said, is to change patient behavior. Population health management is not enough. Real change will only happen with direct patient engagement, something that is often overshadowed by all the hype surrounding big data, a term he believes should be removed from the health IT discussion. Personalized data is much more relevant to patient care.

This more personalized approach for using health data was reflected in his comments on workflow: “’Lifeflow’ instead of workflow. Patients don’t work there, they live there.”

He ended the keynote by offering up his list of health IT hopes for the future:

  • Expand telemedicine
  • See the equivalent of NTSB for Health IT
  • Establish a usability yardstick
  • Support for a community security credential
  • Fund RECs long term
  • Complete work of FDASIA
  • More ONC certification for behavioral health and long-term acute care
  • The ONC needs to focus on coordinating federal activities of health IT and less on policy
  • Create a national patient IDID is a coded value data type. The value of such a field follows the formatting rules for a ST field except that it is drawn from a table of legal values. Examples of ID fields include religion and sex.

All great points from someone with years of experience from both the provider level and at the highest levels of the ONC.

Read additional reviews from the Texas HIMSS conference.

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