National workgroup health IT roadmap recommends focus on improving patient engagement, data exchange

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. - The Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI) Foundation, a leading authority on the use of Health IT to improve healthcare information exchange, in partnership with researchers at RTI International and other industry leaders announced recommendations to serve as a new roadmap for Health IT over the next decade.

The 2013 WEDI Report suggests the key areas of focus for Health IT should be on improving patient engagement and payment models, harmonizing data and information exchange and innovating patient/clinician encounter models.

The report was the culmination of a nine month public-private effort with more than 200 subject matter expert volunteers. It was completed on the 20th anniversary of the initial 1993 WEDI report.

The workgroup included healthcare business, association and government leaders who identified solutions that could be implemented quickly and driven by business.  

Linda Dimitropoulos, Ph.D., director of RTI’s Center for the Advancement of Health IT served on the executive steering committee and Donald Mon, Ph.D., director of Standards and Interoperability within RTI’s Center for the Advancement of Health IT served as co-chair of the data harmonization and exchange work group.

“We have made a lot of progress toward the widespread adoption and use of electronic health information systems since the first WEDI report was published in 1993; however, we have yet to solve the key issue of interoperability,” Dimitropoulos said. “Supporting the development of the 2013 report aligns with the goals of the Center for the Advancement of Health IT at RTI to provide research and technical services that advance the safe, effective and efficient use of electronic health information to improve health care decision making.”

The recommendations include:

  • Standardize the patient identification process across the healthcare system.
  • Expand Health IT education and literacy programs for consumers.
  • Identify use cases, conventions, and operating standards for promoting consumer health and exchange of telehealth information in a mobile environment.
  • Identify existing or proposed federal or state-based laws or regulations that create barriers to the implementation of innovative encounters (including licensure).
  • Identify and promote methods and standards for healthcare information exchange that would enhance care coordination.
  • Identify methods and standards for harmonizing clinical and administrative information reporting that reduce data collection burden, support clinical quality improvement, contribute to public and population health, and accommodate new payment models.

“Like the WEDI Report that I initiated in 1993 that became the roadmap for electronic business solutions for healthcare in the 1990s, the 2013 WEDI Report and recommendations will serve as the roadmap that will lead to greater efficiency and improved healthcare delivery in the years ahead,” said Louis Sullivan, M.D., former Secretary of Health and Human Services and honorary chair of the report.  “I regarded the implementation of the 1993 WEDI Report roadmap as a civic duty for its time, and it is my hope that the healthcare industry will adopt that same spirit for the 2013 WEDI Report recommendations.”