Embracing Interoperability in Health IT

With so many changes and new regulations happening in the health IT world, it can be hard for industry leaders to connect the dots on what’s really important to the future of their organization.

There’s so much to consider, which is why this week, I’m exploring each of the five goals outlined in the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan, spotlighting how health IT marketing communications leaders can use them to accelerate thought leadership efforts and become a leading voice in the discussion.

The five federal health IT goals identified by the ONC as priorities in the years 2015 – 2020 are:

  1. Expand Adoption of Health IT
  2. Advance Secure and Interoperable Health Information
  3. Strengthen Health Care Delivery
  4. Advance the Health and Well-Being of Individuals and Communities
  5. Advance Research, Scientific Knowledge, and Innovation

In my previous installment, I explored how the goal to expand adoption of health IT is directly relevant to your effort as communications leaders. In today’s post I’ll take a closer look at the second goal, which centers on interoperability and security, and gives you the opportunity to participate in some of the biggest industry conversations happening today.

Goal 2: Advance Secure and Interoperable Health Information.

Objective A: Enable individuals, providers, and public health entities to securely send, receive, find, and use electronic health information.

If you’re not already intimately and even uncomfortably familiar with the term “interoperability,” the time is now. It’s the direction, nay the future, of all health IT. Gone are the days when new data silos could co-exist in happy solitude – the government, and many provider organizations, are demanding that systems easily share and use information from one another.

So this objective is no joke. If you don’t believe me, do a quick Google News search on the term interoperability; do you really want to miss out on such an aggressive, important conversation? As a marcom specialist, it’s your responsibility to insert your company into this dialogue, and given the industry’s desperation to understand the topic, you might even be able to drive the conversation within your own sub-market.

Objective B: Identify, prioritize, and advance technical standards to support secure and interoperable health information.

Do you know about the Argonaut Project? Are you familiar with Fast Healthcare Interoperable Resources (FHIR)? What about Health Level 7 (HL7)? Not only do you need to understand these initiatives, you can and should build company perspectives around each of them.

If you want to go a step further, volunteer to lead an internal task force around standards, and spearhead your company’s involvement in federal conversations. Just because you aren’t technically trained doesn’t mean you can’t have a strong voice; in fact, you can be that voice to the world on behalf of your internal subject matter experts, who may not be as confident in public messaging.

Objective C: Protect the privacy and security of health information.

Did you know that health information is ten times more valuable to hackers than financial information? So says the FBI, in recognition of the dramatic uptick in hospital data breaches. Health IT companies need strong security measures in place, but they can’t stop there – as a communications specialist, you need to be prepared in the event that a customer experiences a data breach. Develop a specialized crisis management plan focused on a customer data breach so that you’re not caught empty-handed if (or when) it erupts. You’ll be expected to serve as a close partner and confidant to the marketing teams of hospitals facing these issues.

Stay tuned for a closer look at the third goal in the Health IT Strategic Plan: Strengthen Health Care Delivery.

Did you miss the original installment? Click here to read Finding Your Voice in the Federal Health IT Debate: A Roadmapand the following three installments:  Health IT’s Role in Improving Healthcare DeliveryTell the Human Side of Your Health IT Story and Creating a Health IT Ecosystem.

February 3, 2015
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