Tearing Down the Walls to Health IT

Storified by · Thu, Sep 06 2012 10:00:47

Tuesday, International announced that beginning in 2013 it would make it’s intellectual property, including the various HL7 standards, free to those who request it under general licensing terms. Previously, access to the HL7 standards was only available to paying members of the professional organization, and some claimed the costs of membership to be a significant barrier to health IT interoperability on a national level.
This announcement, combined with the recently finalized rules for Meaningful Use Stage 2, are significant steps forward for health IT professionals who work daily to connect internal databases, applications and operating systems so the health data is more useful for caregivers at the point of care, whether it be within the four walls of the hospital or in other hospitals connected to the same HIE
Huge #HL7 News: BoD agrees to new IP policy with some standards now free. PR due at noon; webinars next week. http://ow.ly/drPOfDave Shaver on HL7
As always, John Halmaka, chief information officer of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, was able to summarize the “Why should we care?” about these two developments in this quote:
“Meaningful Use Stage 2 depends upon many HL7 standards -HL77 2.51 for transactions and Consolidated for summaries. Today’s announcement is very timely and we can expect that the Meaningful Use Stage 2 HL7 intellectual property will be available without charge to all stakeholders in the first quarter 2013, months before the first reporting period for October 1, 2014 attestation begins.”
Life as a Healthcare CIO: A Milestone for InteroperabilityToday, HL7 announced its decision to make much of its intellectual property, including standards, freely available under licensing terms….
Does the free access to HL7 standards make the work of HIT professionals any easier? Probably not. In fact, the future widespread availability continues to emphasizes the need for health facilities to have an established IT infrastructure in place because the need to exchange and integrate data is only going to increase. According to the following post, neglecting to focus on health IT infrastructure may cause future problems that may derail worthwhile care delivery initiatives with very real deadlines.
Health IT Infrastructure: Foundation for Performance, Not a CommodityHealth IT Infrastructure: Foundation for Performance, Not a Commodity
While HIT professionals are already overwhelmed with EHR integration, Meaningful Use and the ever-important support for caregivers, it’s important to keep in mind that the trends toward interoperability have two very important goals in mind that improve the overall health of patients in the U.S.: make health data readily available at the point of care, wherever that may be; and encourage patients to become engaged with their care through technology (e.g., patient portals). 
Dave Chase illustrated the importance of patient engagement and opening up patient access to their health data in the following post in Forbes. I thought it would be appropriate to share during this election season, since he does a nice job of bringing both sides of the political aisle together by using a Reagan quote in reference to the technology revolution underway in healthcare.
Mr. Obama, Tear(ing) Down This Wall – ForbesVideoUpdate: This was originally posted as "Mr. Obama, Tear Down This Wall" but with an announcement this week, a significant step was ta…

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