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April 17: These interviews in action feature Drex DeFord, President, 229 Risk & Security at This Week Health with Didi Davis, VP, Informatics, Conformance & Interoperability of The Sequoia Project from HIMSS 2024 and Sarah Richardson, SVP, Chief Digital & Information Officer of Tivity Health is joined by Erica Williams, Regional Technology Officer of Ascension at ViVE 2024. Didi diving deep into the intricacies of healthcare IT, interoperability, and the transformative work being done at The Sequoia Project. With a rich background spanning 34 years in healthcare IT and a passion for improving data usability. But what does it truly take to make data more usable in the healthcare sector, and how can the Sequoia Project's initiatives, like the Interoperability Matters and the newly launched Data Usability Taking Root, pave the way for a more interconnected healthcare ecosystem? Moreover, how do these efforts contribute to the broader goals of provider-to-provider exchange, public health communication, and empowering consumers in their healthcare journey? Also, Erica Williams navigates through the complexities and aspirations of modern healthcare systems, Erica shares her professional development journey, emphasizing the unpredictable yet invaluable learnings from ViVE. The conversation takes a deep dive into the critical challenge of interoperability within healthcare systems. But how does this quest for interoperability intersect with the enhancement of clinician experiences, from physicians to nurses? And in what ways can ambient solutions and AI components revolutionize the provider landscape?

Transcript

This transcription is provided by artificial intelligence. We believe in technology but understand that even the smartest robots can sometimes get speech recognition wrong.

Welcome to This Week Health. My name is Bill Russell. I'm a former CIO for a 16 hospital system and creator of This Week Health, where we are dedicated to transforming healthcare, one connection at a time. Today , we have an interview in action from the 2024 conferences, the spring conferences, VIVE in LA, HIMSS in Orlando.

Special thanks to our sponsors, Quantum Health, Gordian, Dr. First, CDW, Gozeo Health, Artisite, and Zscaler. You can check them out on our website, thisweekhealth. com. Now, onto our interview

β€Š (Interview 1) hi, it's Drex from This Week Health. And we are here at the Big HIMSS 2024 show.

I'm really lucky to have Didi with me. Have you seen, what do you think? How's everything going here?

This show is amazing this year. I have to say I'm busy, I worked at HIMS, I don't know if you knew that, for three years. Other than when I worked here, I think it's a busy, busy week, but it's been so productive.

And I've seen so many people, some that I haven't seen for 20 years. It's a home week, right? It is, that's what it feels like, like a reunion. People you haven't seen for

10 years show up and you're like, oh my gosh.

Yeah, so it's been amazing. That's great. I've actually had a good week. That's

awesome. We're here to talk about the Sequoia project, but a good way to start this is always learning a little bit about your background and your history and how did you wind up in The Sequoia project?

Okay, so I'll try to keep it as short as possible. Okay,

do your best.

Starting off, I've been here 34 years doing healthcare, IT, interoperability, all of those things. So I started working in a healthcare organization, a hospital, a university hospital. Worked there for four years. Left the hospital and started working with vendors.

Worked with vendors for 16 years. I started with a dot com company called Omnicell.

Okay. And

then moved up through the ranks and the last vendor I worked for was a company called Eclipsis which is now Altaria. I've heard of all of them. Yeah just connecting those dots. Worked there left there to come to work for him.

Worked here for three years. And if you've seen the interoperability showcase not too far from here, I started that monster. Good

for you! I'm a proud

mother to say that it's prospering and I'm so proud. But I launched the first one here in the States, the first ones in Europe, and the first ones in Asia.

Left there and actually started my own company. Did that for seven years. Held a lot of executive roles. At one point I was a CTO for the state of Tennessee where I live. Interim CEOs at some health information exchanges. All things interoperability. Closer to home. And one of my contracts was with The Sequoia Project.

And it was to run a testing program. Because one of my passions is you gotta test so you know what you don't know. How well is your system working? So I started the first testing program there and here I am 11 years later. I now run eight testing programs. My official title is vice president of informatics, conformance, and interoperability, meaning I wear lots of hats.

So I represent us as the standards bodies. I bring back the feedback of improvements that could be made to the standards. Working on eight testing programs that I am responsible for. The latest one is for the RCE. Our role is the recognized coordination. So I just launched that last year which now has seven QHINs designated.

And then I also do this thing called data usability. I'm trying to make that happen in the real world.

That's amazing. I'm tired just listening to all the things.

I tried to keep it short, but yeah.

Very impressive. So tell us then more specifically about the Sequoia project and the work that you all are doing in the near term.

And then we can talk about too, like long term plans.

Perfect. You know, the Sequoia Project is a non profit. We're based in Washington, D. C. We started in April of 2012, so we're just about, to celebrate now our anniversary again. We started actually launching the large network now known as the eHealth Exchange.

So that's kind of what we started with. When ONC, who had been incubating that as the Nationwide Health Information Network, I call it putting their baby up for adoption, we took it over. Marianne Yeager. My CEO, my boss, actually was already working with it, had a passion to start it. And we started from there.

In 2014, that was one network. We were approached by other networks saying we want to figure out how we can interoperate together. So we launched something called Care Equality. Care Equality now has 50 networks connected, exchanging 9 billion clinical documents per year. So with that experience of Care Equality, in August of 2019, we were engaged with ONC as the recognized coordinating entity So we've been doing that since then. So that's kind of the latest taking what we've learned from care quality to inform the government endorsed network framework to make this real. So that you eliminate those business associate agreements between organizations. So it doesn't scale real bad. So we work on that.

And then we also have something called Interoperability Matters. Which helps us bring those, what are those pain points the industry is having? Having, for instance, data, usability, public health, privacy and consent, all those really difficult things that really need some help. And they're kind of fundamental to the whole they are.

And so , we pride ourselves in being a convener to try to convene these public private groups, government agencies, and try to help make baby step improvements along the way.

Standards, groups, all of those folks come together as command.

Very

interesting

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β€Šdata, usability, heated operation. I'm passionate about it.

tell us more about that I would like to hear it

So I'm very happy and grateful that our board of directors prioritize data usability as one of the things we need to focus on. And it's not a one and done. They're saying , they want to support us at least for a decade or more. It's going to take a while to fix this. But we launched our data usability work group in October of 2020.

We bet for two years, basically got the industry to give us their pain points. What are the problems with data usibility that you are experiencing We have three high level use cases. Provider to provider exchange. What are those problems? Provider to public health, or public health back to provider, because that's important. And also the healthcare entity to the consumer.

Me as a patient, I'm a consumer. A caregiver. I'm a caregiver to my father and my mother in law. How do I improve those things? So how do we improve those situations and use cases? So we had pain points come from all over across the industry. We prioritize. those And we put out implementation guidance two years later in December of 2022.

So it took us two years to reach consensus on what is that next step we can do to make a difference. So we put out the publication December 2022

and, and you know what? It was fun because folks actually had awareness ,and there's guidance in there. In fact, COVID brought a whole bunch new value sets that no one knew about. So they put those in there so people would become aware. So we did that and we started right back in February of 23, working on version two.

So we're currently working on version two right now, but we didn't want version one to sit on a shelf and collect dust. We wanted to , have it become implementable and actually be adopted by the industry in general. So we partnered with AHIMA, the American Health and Information Management Association as a co-sponsor.

And we launched what we call Data Usability Taking Root. So that we can actually get folks to implement that guidance. So we launched that in July of last year. And I'm happy to say we have a community of practice of about 60 organizations backing us. And actually helping us move the needle. are you training

any education kind of programs?

All of the above.

So the community of practice that we created, developed what we call a priority, what are the things that we need to help you be successful? So the top three priority items that they focused on was we need to have a scorecard. How do we hold each other accountable to see that we've actually made some kind of progress?

How do we do a readiness checklist to see how, if I'm a hospital system or an ambulatory provider or a public health agency, how do I know what I need to do? And then we also just launched a press release out last Friday. We have a new testing tool, but we're going to have that available for folks to learn what they don't know.

How bad is my data when it comes to

the readiness part of it? Sometimes you just need somebody else to help you. You don't know what you don't know. So that's

what we're starting with. And then the community of practice will continue working with us to help us understand what we can do to help them by providing educational resources, webinars what we would call ongoing workshops.

We had one at AHIMA. We'll convene clinician workshops and things like that. Yeah,

that totally makes sense. I mean, leveraging organizations like AHIMA and HIMSS and others.

Yes.

Put on regional events. Data usability. Yes. in

fact, that's one of the reasons I'm so busy here at HIMSS. I just came from another presentation in one of our partners, Boost, where they highlighted our work and recorded it.

They're going to post that. And that's it. We need everybody to create the buzz to make this happen. Because it's going to take all of us working together to actually move anything.

Yeah, that's great. We're going to create some buzz with this.

We'd love that. Thank you. I really

appreciate you being here today.

Thanks for the opportunity. Thanks for your time. Anything else? One of the things that always happens is at the end of the interview, you turn off the cameras, and then somebody says, I wish I would have thought about this one other thing. So here's your chance. Maybe that's that one other thing.

I want people that look at pledging.

So go to The Sequoia Project. org, go there to Initiatives Data Usability, pledge. Even if you're just a supporter, helping evangelize this within your organization or sharing it with the peers, I'd love for folks to go out there and at least consider it. You pledge, there's no cost or anything. All we're doing is helping spread the word.

I think that would be great. That's fantastic. Absolutely. I appreciate you being here. Thanks so much. Enjoy the rest of the show. I will. And we'll see you, around soon.

Alright. Again, thanks for the opportunity. Of

course. Have a great

day.

You too. See you.

β€Š (Transition) πŸ“ πŸ“ πŸ“ ​

β€Š (Interview 2) πŸ“ πŸ“ Welcome to VIVE 2024, live from Los Angeles. And we are fortunate enough today to be joined by Erica Williams, who is the Regional Technology Officer for Ascension Health. Erica, thanks for being here.

Thanks, Sarah.

What are you most excited about to see at VIVE this year?

You know, what I love about VIVE is that there's so much content, and I use it as an opportunity for my professional development.

You never know, you think you know what the to be, but with the focus groups and the conversations You just never know what you're going to learn and take away. Excellent. If you could find one solution on the floor this week to bring back to your health system, what would it be?

that's a difficult one.

Our focus for our organization, especially with our size, is around interoperability. If I could snap my fingers and fix that problem across multiple different systems, across multiple different hospitals, I think that would be the win. I don't know that we have that magic wand out there, but that's what I'm looking for.

And also, anything else. That can help to improve our clinician experience from physicians to nurses. Those are things that are gonna affirm my yours as well.

Yep. I keep hearing about people looking for the ambient solutions for the providers, and so those are pretty exciting. They're exciting and everyone's on the hunt forum that and the AI component of what's going on.

So I'll be curious to follow up with you post-conference and be like, did you find what you were looking for? And if so, how do we continue those conversations and ideations that we bring forward? Right. All right. Most important question for you, I hope the whole time you're at VIVE , you can pick any fictional character. to be your VIVE coach who would it be

you

may get this a lot, but I am a diehard Ted Lasso fan. And what I love about him is that he made compassionate leadership cool. Right? So as a female leader, that wasn't always cool to be a compassionate leader. So he, as a, , a male leader within , his storyline, and to come at it compassionately and find success that way, I think was such a great way for him.

I love that you said that. You're the second person who's picked Ted Lasso. But you think about it. And here's why Ted is so popular, I believe, and will continue to be , when he came to Richmond to coach them, he didn't know anything about soccer. He used his network and his ability to connect with people to create a championship.

And that's what I believe everybody's looking for, whether it's football or soccer. Right. Or healthcare. When you do it together, it makes it a whole lot more possible. That's

right. It really is all about the people. It Getting in with them and focusing on becoming An organization that's people focused will make a difference regardless if you know what's going on specifically within, the area.

You can't know it all all the time. No. So if you can source it, you can always figure it out. That's right. Great, thanks for being here. Thank you. Good to see you. Take care.

β€Š πŸ“ Thanks

for listening to this Interview in Action episode. If you found value in this, share it with a peer. It's a great chance to discuss and in some cases start a mentoring relationship. One way you can support the show is to subscribe and leave us a rating. If you could do that, that would be great, and we want to give a big thanks to our partners who make this possible.

πŸ“ Quantum Health, Gordian, Dr. First, CDW, Gozio Health, Artisite, and Zscaler. You can learn more about them by visiting thisweekhealth. com slash partners. Thanks for listening. That's all for now.

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