ONC unveils 10-year plan for healthcare interoperability

Dan Bowman | FierceHealthIT | June 5, 2014

By 2024, the national health IT infrastructure and data standards will evolve to support robust information sharing and aggregation, creating a “continuous learning” environment for care, according to an ONC paper published today.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT outlined a 10-year plan to develop an interoperable health IT ecosystem that can simultaneously improve population health, boost patient engagement and lower costs.

The agency shared a set of five “critical building blocks” for achieving its goals, while also revealing its expectations for three, six and 10 years down the road.

National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo, at the Patient Privacy Rights Summit in the District of Columbia on June 4, talked about the importance of getting feedback from multiple stakeholders for the paper, published in the wake of ONC’s recently announced realignment, which aims to streamline processes as federal funding dries up.

“Though at ONC we have set interoperability to connect care and information on behalf of patients and consumers as a high priority … I want to make sure that it’s clear to folks that we didn’t do that in our box at Humphrey,” DeSalvo said. “We spent the first few months doing quite a bit of informal … and formal environmental scans, looking for what kinds of writings, letters, comments we were receiving from our stakeholders of all walks.”

While the current health system has the capability to capture data at rest and in silos, DeSalvo said, to really make it powerful, it needs to be able to move safely and securely for the benefit of people.

“Interoperability … is so complex,” she said. “It requires all of us to have some shared responsibility thinking through how we’re going to get there in a way that meets everyone’s needs and expectations.”

To view the full article, please visit ONC unveils 10-year plan for healthcare interoperability

Re: Release of Ponemon “Benchmark Study on Patient Privacy and Data Security” on Nov 9th

Today’s new Ponemon study catalogs the health care industry’s massive indifference to keeping patients’ health data secure.

View the Ponemon Study Press Release

This is not a new problem. The lack of ironclad data protection and security has been a set up for catastrophe from the beginning.  If banks handled the security of financial records as badly as hospitals handle health records, they would have been shut down.

Why is abysmal security for health data tolerated, when it is far more sensitive than financial records and also contains financial and demographic information?

The study details the lack of comprehensive technical protections, the lack of adequate staff, the lack of adequate funding , and the lack of encryption. It even found that 53% of health care organizations are “not confident” they know where patient data is actually located.

It’s painful to read such graphic detail about the breathtaking, systemic disregard for patient data protections. Page after page of awful statistics should make the public and government pause before spending $39 billion dollars of stimulus funds on such fatally flawed systems.

Relentless industry promotion of health IT seems to override the lack of adequate data protection and common sense.

Here are a few statistics from the study:

  • The total economic burden on US hospitals of data breaches is $12 Billion dollars/year.
  • 69% of health care organizations can’t prevent or detect data breaches
  • 71% of health care organizations have inadequate resources to deal with data breaches or improve their systems and technology
  • 70% of hospitals said that data protection is not a priority
  • Strikingly, 41% said that data breaches were discovered by patients, which appears to be low because another 19% of breaches were discovered because of legal complaints and 8% by law enforcement. Both legal actions and law enforcement complaints were also probably because patients discovered breaches and sought help, making the total of patient-discovered breaches closer to 68% than 41%.

If 41-68% of patients reported breaches, they must have suffered direct harms, such as data exposure leading to humiliation/embarrassment, identity theft, or medical identity theft.

Shouldn’t the government spend the stimulus billions on systems that DO ensure data security and EMPOWER patients to selectively disclose sensitive health information only to those they trust?