As the coronavirus pandemic began to take hold of the world, much of the conversation understandably focused on federal and state responses. For most people, the role of health information technology remained hidden behind staggering infection rates and death tolls. But interoperability, it turns out, proved to be critical in coordinating the public health response.

The presenters of InterSystems’ Healthy Data Podcast, Jack Murtha and Tom Castles, spoke to Jay Nakashima, executive director of the eHealth Exchange, to learn how interoperability and health IT efforts are bolstering the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

As the coronavirus pandemic began to take hold of the world, much of the conversation understandably focused on federal and state responses. For most people, the role of health information technology remained hidden behind staggering infection rates and death tolls. But interoperability, it turns out, proved to be critical in coordinating the public health response.

Nakashima describes how his organisation retooled its focus to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, in the following ways:

  • The health information network connected healthcare provider organisations to public health agencies in a seamless manner that supported a stronger response than would have otherwise been obtainable.
  • The eHealth Exchange launched initiatives that enabled healthcare organisations, physicians, and patients to regain some sense of agency at a time when almost everything seemed out of their control.
  • Interoperability emerged as important in a time of pandemic as it is in times of peace.

Nakashima also discusses electronic case reporting, advance care plans and directives, and a new take on the Patient Unified Lookup System for Emergencies, better known as PULSE.

Of course, the United States and other nations still have work to do to achieve seamless, comprehensive interoperability. Nakashima also weighs in on how healthcare and technology leaders can advance the cause and why they must, even after COVID-19 enters the history books.