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ONC’s HIMSS Interoperability Showcase -- is it in your future?

Every single trade show and exhibition claims that right now, its chosen industry is on the brink of some grand new era of something or other. So, it’s nothing new that for next week’s Healthcare and Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) show, numerous vendors, speakers and HIMSS itself have latched on to the marketing theme of “transforming healthcare.”

Below the veneer of transformational hype, however, this time there appears to be a grain or two of truth.

With billions of federal dollars pouring into the nation’s hospitals, clinics and physician practices to aid them in implementing electronic health records over the next five years, next week’s HIMSS will be the place where facilities’ leaders take home ideas and strategies for implementing EHRs in their own backyards.

Amid the rampant commercialism on display at the Georgia World Congress Center next week will be some very interesting, less commercial demonstrations at the U.S. Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s Interoperability Showcase. In one patch of floor space, ONC will have assembled more than 60 demonstration projects that could serve as pilots for thousands more in the coming years.

Some of the more interesting demos — at least on paper:

Supporting midwestern grandparents on vacation: A large urban health information exchange in Cincinnati, a community HIE in southeast Nebraska and a rural HIE in California will together demonstrate how the ONC’s CONNECT toolkit enables the sharing of health data as Nebraska grandparents travel across the country and visit family in Ohio and California.

Improving adverse event reporting: The Food and Drug Administration can collect device reports straight out of EHRs, giving regulators a much more complete picture than the current reporting system can of which patients could be affected by what problem devices.

Building family patient histories: The Surgeon General’s “My Family Health Portrait” pipes data collected from consumers via the Web into EHRs and personal health records.

These early adopters (federal agencies, states, providers and payers) will be showing how they’re sharing health data across public and private networks, and sharing their best practices for standardizing, transmitting and securing it.

Some show attendees will blow right past these without a second thought. The siren song of bigger, brighter lights, louder noise and free stuff will prove too great a distraction.

Take a second look at ONC’s demos, however, because viewing the projects on display in this particular corner of HIMSS might very well be akin to glancing into a crystal ball and seeing your future.

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