In virtually every state of our country, efforts are being mounted to combat the worst public health crisis in modern U.S. history; that is, the opioid epidemic. Some of these initiatives are still in their early stages, while others are relatively advanced and starting to see successes. Regardless of where they are in their development, however, they share at least two common denominators:
- They recognize that interoperability and information-sharing are critical keys to making progress. That’s the good news.
- They operate within their own borders, so lessons learned in one state aren’t necessarily being applied – or aren’t even known – by any other. That’s obviously unfortunate, to say the least.
This reality is exactly what the National Interoperability Collaborative (NIC) was created to address, not just relating to the opioid/heroin crisis, but across the multiple issues and diverse domains that contribute to everyone’s health and well-being. Of course, we have to build NIC’s organizational structure, capacity and on-the-ground activities to accomplish its mission of systemically advancing collaboration and information-sharing. I’m proud to say we’ve made significant strides on all counts since NIC was launched at the Stewards of Change Institute’s 12th National Symposium last June.
Just a few examples of what we’ve been up to include:
- Partnering on innovative interoperability projects with three states (California, Connecticut and Virginia), as well as with the Silicon Valley Regional Data Trust (SVRDT) and the Healthcare Information Management and Systems Society (HIMSS).
- Preparing our first major event, titled “A Symposium in the NIC of Time: Advancing Information-Sharing in California and Beyond,” which will take place in Sacramento on March 26-27.
- Producing a new NIC website and collaboration portal, which will launch in late March, and
- Conducting an environmental scan of existing guidance on interoperability, the key findings of which we’ll discuss at the symposium.
Most recently, we’ve been planning our main pre-symposium event, a webinar with IBM titled “Insights from the Front Lines: What’s Working (and Not Working) in the Battle against Opioids.” The webinar will take place from 12-1:15 p.m. on Monday, March 5, and will explore interoperative approaches for accelerating progress by demonstrating how sharing and gaining knowledge across jurisdictions can occur – and, indeed, is occurring. Please join us by completing this registration form.
Mary-Sara Jones, who is the Industry Leader of Health and Human Services for IBM, will serve as the webinar moderator. The three presenters have been at the forefront of shaping and executing the opioid responses in their respective states; they are:
- Esteban Gershanik, MD, CIO of Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals, who will discuss his state’s nascent efforts, which he is spearheading after numerous successes in Massachusetts.
- Bill Hazel Jr., MD, Virginia’s immediate past Secretary of Health and Human Resources, who will discuss his state’s growing efforts, which are farther along than LA’s, but are still developing.
- Juan Colon, who has been instrumental in shaping the efforts of the New Jersey Fusion Center, who will discuss the innovative work of the center, which is advanced and a potential model.
The webinar will also provide a glimpse of our March symposium, which is being underwritten by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. High demand has led us to close registration for this invitation-only event, but it will be live-streamed. Please watch the Stewards of Change website for more information about signing up to watch the symposium’s plenary sessions and track along with our social media feed.
For those of you who don’t know yet – and I hope that number is diminishing by the minute! – NIC is a Community of Networks designed to improve information-sharing and collaboration among the many sectors that impact health and well-being, especially for at-risk and underserved members of society. This unique initiative was started with generous seed funding from the Kresge Foundation and additional support from IBM, Microsoft and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. NIC is led by the Stewards of Change Institute and AcademyHealth.
Please join us for the NIC webinar on March 5, and write to NIC@stewardsofchange.org to learn how you can get involved in this exciting new initiative.