A Growing Need to Balance Privacy with Greater Interoperability – Especially at a Time of Change!

Wherever you are on the political spectrum, one thing is crystal clear: We live in changing times. And we can feel quite certain that, in the next administration, one of the areas in which change will almost certainly be coming is in health and human services. 

There will be lots to discuss in the coming weeks and months about the Affordable Care Act and many other topics related to HHS. Today – frankly because Stewards of Change Institute (SOCI) has a webinar coming up on Monday – I want to say just a few words about a subject that will remain very important, irrespective of what policy shifts the new administration initiates.

The subject, of course, is the need for greater interoperability, a reality highlighted in an article this morning about a new report from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). Its headline, “ONC Tells Congress: Interoperability Must Be a Priority,” tells the tale – and I couldn’t agree more. Indeed, on top of all the other reasons more interoperability is already needed, the possible decentralization of health and human services away from Washington will make the smooth exchange of information among states (as well as the agencies, hospitals and other organizations within them) even more critical.

A bit more about our webinar, which we obviously planned before anyone knew who would win the presidential election – but which we think is all the more important because of how the balloting turned out. The webinar will take place at 2 p.m. (Eastern) next Monday, presented with our partner MarkLogic and titled “Solving Interoperability through Effective Data-Sharing Agreements and Breakthrough Technologies.” Please register here, and join us if you can.

The topic of managing privacy and confidentiality will be at the heart of this webinar. Being able to responsibly share information – within the confines of law and policy as more of it gets shared from interoperable systems – is critically important. Managing confidentiality is an area SOC has been focused on for years; or, as we like to say, we’ve been working on “Getting to Yes with your Attorneys.”

Our presenters are three subject matter experts from SOCI and MarkLogic: Richard Gold, John DiMattio and Andrew Jacobs. They will discuss new technologies and practices to help create and guide a human services system, while improving care and reducing risks and costs along the way. The content is intended for executives, program managers, privacy officers, general counsels, CIO’s and CTO’s, and other professionals who struggle with important business questions because the answers are spread across disconnected data sources within and outside their organizations.

Stewards of Change has been working diligently for over a dozen years to develop knowledge about information-sharing and interoperability and, most importantly, to enable governments at all levels to employ cutting-edge technology as a means of improving efficiency, cutting costs and improving outcomes. We are currently in the process of expanding our work in significant ways, which I’ll spell out in a series of blogs in the months to come.

Meanwhile, we believe that all of us need to rededicate ourselves to furthering interoperability and information-sharing, because their greater implementation will improve the lives of Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Green Party adherents and Independents alike. Whatever else is happening or will happen, that reality will not change.

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