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Improving EHR Use, Interoperability, Optimization at HIMSS17

Education sessions at HIMSS17 include helpful strategies and use cases for improving EHR use to benefit care coordination, patient outcomes, and population health.

EHR use, interoperability, optimization at HIMSS17

Source: Thinkstock

By Kyle Murphy, PhD

- EHR adoption is at an all-time high after healthcare organizations and providers completed EHR implementation projects over the past several, so it should come as no surprise that numerous educational opportunities health IT’s most recognized event focus on improving aspects of current EHR technology.

Here’s a breakdown of education sessions at HIMSS17 that are a must for healthcare executives and professionals to inform approaches to improving EHR use by making these systems usable and interoperable.


On Monday, HIMSS17 education sessions germane to EHR use center on the notion of patient-centeredness.

Representatives from Texas Health Resources will share how the health system has “hardwired” patient-centered care into their health IT infrastructure, specifically the task of enabling its EHR technology to support clinician workflows by incorporation evidenced-based specifications and requirements directly into the software.

That session is followed by one led by Advocate Health Care’s Tina Esposito. During the midday session, Vice President of the Center for Health Information Services will describe strategies for moving EHR data analytics away from a focus on episodic care to one that is patient-centered and supports the goals of value-based models of care delivery.

READ MORE: CommonWell Members to Build Healthcare APIs to Expand Service

Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) will have a role to play in unlocking data stored in legacy health IT systems and putting this information to work for clinical research. On Monday afternoon, Health Level Seven International (HL7) Chief Technology Officer Wayne Kubick will discuss ways FHIR use can remove barriers to clinical trial data collection and how SMART on FHIR can link patients and their data to clinical research findings impacting their health.


To support a healthcare organization transitioning from one a legacy EHR technology to a new EHR one requires careful planning and management. To kick off Tuesday, a pair of IT leaders from Houston Methodist Hospital will speak to the key success factors that allowed the health system to complete a large-scale EHR implementation spanning multiple years and requiring dedicated support for core systems to be sunset, specifically major EHR project staffing needs.

Effective care coordination requires EHR interoperability. However, a combination of factors (e.g. health IT regulation, infrastructure, business practices) stand in the way of efficient health data exchange between providers. Clinical Informaticist Sindhu R-Kammath, MD, of Universal Health Services will share strategies for operationalizing EHR interoperability with the use of the Value STEPS Framework to measure progress and performance in health information sharing.

Also on the subject of EHR interoperability Tampa General Hospital’s Peter Chang, MD, and Sansoro Health’s David Levin, MD, will share a use case for health data exchange between their two organizations made possible through the deployment of the application programming interfaces (APIs) and web services known as OpenAPIs. The discussion of the legacy EHR management plan will shine light on ways to enable data sharing between separate EHR systems, including legacy technology.

In a following session, Christy Kaplan, RN, MBA, of John Muir Health Susan R. Tolin, RN, MBA of The Chartis Group will present on making EHR data actionable for providers assuming risk as part of population health management programs. The need to coordinate members of the care team and services rendered can benefit from thorough and accurate documentation in a patient’s EHR.


READ MORE: ONC Interoperability Standards Advisory Receives Suggestions

On Wednesday morning, health information executives from the University Of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center will discuss how the use of a data-first strategy led to the design, development, and implementation of a enterprise-wide EHR technology able to “move over one thousand columns of data into its standalone data warehouse,” removing obstacles to EHR data extraction.

Soon after, Tord Allen, MD, and Agato Nytko of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago will focus on the impact of EHR documentation on clinician productivity and efficiency. In particular, the two will share findings from a pilot project to design a tool that allow clinician EHR users to face patients rather than their computer screens in an outpatient orthopedic surgery setting.

Later that day, the attention turns again to putting EHR data to work to improve patient outcomes and the health of populations. Leadership from  SwedishAmerican Medical Group (SAMG) in Illinois will share how applied analytics are aiding providers in using EHR data to improve care quality, how EHR clinical data can serve population health, and the combination of both can prevent high-risk patients from presenting in the hospital.


The final day of HIMSS17 offers two opportunities for attendees to enable their EHR technology to support clinicians.

First, Mayo Clinic’s Vitaly Herasevich, MD, PhD, MSc, will tackle the issue of alarm hazards, which the ECRI has ranked as a top health technology threat to patient safety.  The Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Medicine address the role of EHR technology in developing smart alerts to benefit syndrome surveillance following an analysis of existing rules for clinical alerts.

READ MORE: DirectTrust Recommendations Encourage EHR Interoperability

Lastly, the Head of Education at the International Health Terminology Standards Development Organization David C. Markwell, MB, BS, LRCP, MRCS, will speak to the role of SNOMED CT and clinical terminology in enabling advanced EHR analytics



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