PA Presents Rural Perspective at National IT Meeting

Urges Policymakers To Consider Healthcare IT through a Rural Lens.

By AAPA Advocacy Department

Roger Wells, a PA practicing family medicine in rural Nebraska for the past 31 years, participated as a panelist at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s (ONC) Annual Meeting.

ONC, an entity within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the principal federal organization coordinating the nationwide use of advanced health information technology and the electronic exchange of health information. This year’s meeting, Tackling Barriers to Interoperability and Usability, showcased improvements in the usability and interoperability of health information technology.

Wells participated in the panel, Interoperability “Points of View,” which presented five industry perspectives on interoperability.  In addition to Wells, the panel included:

  • Vik Kheterpal, M.D., principal, CareEvolution, a developer of web and mobile applications for the healthcare industry;
  • Cynthia Fisher, founder and managing director, WaterRev, LLC and patient advocate;
  • Jim Jirjis, M.D., chief health information officer, Hospital Corporation of America; and
  • Scott Iverson, chief operating officer, OptumInsight.

Wells spoke about how a large percentage of rural residents lag behind the rest of the country in wireless connectivity and other technology.  This includes many practices that adopted electronic health record (EHR) systems after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, “with no idea what they were going to do with it, except start putting information on a page.”  Even today, there is little interoperability —“no talking to the lab, the nursing home, hospice.” He urged those at the meeting to talk about improving interoperability of EHRs to remember to “step back and look at things with a rural lens,” and to identify simple steps moving forward, “so that we can all benefit from the advancements” in information technology.

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The author is Ellen Rathfon, senior director of professional advocacy at AAPA.  Contact her at [email protected].