On October 9th a small group of attendees from the 7th Annual Stewards of Change Symposium discussed key findings and recommendations with federal leaders from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight and Food and Nutritional Services. Over the past three months many participants contributed to the review and preparation of the presentation that included these findings and recommendations.
Enhancing the dialogue at the federal meeting were several senior State and County leaders who offered real life examples to illustrate many of the essential points.
The meeting kicked-off with an overview of the Symposium’s goals, agenda, attendees, approach, identified challenges, and a summary of five key recommendations. A spirit of openness and inquiry permeated the room and contributed to a stimulating, insightful and energetic conversation. The focus was predominantly on short-term actions that could accelerate the implementation of health care reform and build system connectivity. The five key recommendations include:
- Enhance Federal leadership and collaboration capabilities to support client-centered HHS interoperability;
- Clarify policy to reduce confusion and to incentivize strategic change and innovation;
- Develop architecture, standards, use cases and open source software to support holistic & integrated health and human services;
- Provide additional guidance and resources to/from states and local entities that support innovation, prototypes and pilots;
- Provide advanced education and training to empower workforce to leverage interoperability efforts being driven by Health.
Throughout the discussion we focused on ways to build upon the enabling foundation that HHS established through policy changes (Seven conditions and standards), funding opportunities (90/10 dollars) and greater cost allocation flexibility (A-87). It became clear to all involved that more communication could help educate and/or encourage those states that have not yet taken full advantage of this once in a career opportunity. As an example, there are as many as 30 states that have not yet submitted requests to leverage the available funding to build integrated eligibility or utilize the cost allocation flexibility to benefit health and human service interoperability.
We discussed how the window of opportunity is closing rapidly, and that without prompt action many states and counties will lose a unique opportunity to build integrated eligibility and enrollment systems in the short term and greater interoperability longer-term.
One important commitment made by federal partners was to explore creating a federal governance forum to convene multiple federal agencies which would regularly explore interoperability efforts and opportunities across the HHS silos. This type of forum would provide a unique opportunity to interact with the interoperability community, and learn about innovative solutions being implemented across the nation. It could also encourage more collaboration and coordination among the organizations that are pursuing the broader interoperability goal.
This meeting illustrated the commitment of multiple individuals and communities working together to advance interoperability across program silos, sectors, and jurisdictions. I hope that you will share with us your thoughts about how these materials and efforts could inspire and support your initiatives and move us all closer to improving outcomes, lowering costs and improving performance for all our systems.
We are planning a host a webinar to discuss the outcomes from the Symposium and review the Federal meeting on November 30th from 12 – 1PM EST. Please hold this date on your calendar and look out for more information in the near future. We encourage everyone to participate in this ongoing dialogue to advance efforts to build integration and interoperability.