After HIMSS15 came to a close in Chicago last month, Dr. Michael J. McCoy, the first-ever chief health information officer appointed by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, sat down to an interview with Healthcare Informatics. Over the course of the interview, McCoy revealed what his vision was for the ONC moving forward.

The ONC has undergone a lot of changes as of late, especially when it comes to the C-suite and the recently released Interoperability Roadmap. Not only was McCoy appointed to a new role with the organization, but Dr. Thomas Mason was also selected as the ONC’s new chief medical officer in February and Dr. Andy Gettinger was named the ONC’s chief medical information officer during October of last year. It seems with all of these new roles, the ONC is re-positioning its goals, and interoperability clearly seems to be one of them.

McCoy offers fresh vision of interoperability for the ONC

McCoy might have been selected to the ONC’s C-suite because of his wide range of experience, according to Healthcare Informatics. In addition to serving two decades as an OB/GYN, McCoy was also a health system CMIO for several years at Catholic Health East, a 20-plus-hospital organization in the Detroit area. With his expertise in the health IT sector and perspectives from the clinical side of medical software, he wants to bring a well-rounded voice to the C-suite at the ONC. At the start of the interview, he made it clear what his No. 1 goal was.

“My primary focus has to be on interoperability, because that’s the foundation for everything else,” McCoy explained.

He made it clear that organizations like the ONC and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the meaningful use program have had good intentions for improving electronic health records. However, he said that “there are a lot of individual siloed areas” within the U.S. healthcare system. When you add in the fact that the requirements for meaningful use incentives are getting more stringent and the legislative bodies are getting involved in the development process, there is a clear need for nationwide coordination, making interoperability a necessity.

Optimized data is also needed

McCoy added that the meaningful use program should also work to support health system reform, but it can’t be done without “data liquidity.” This will become critically important as physicians move toward a value-based payment platform where patient outcomes have a direct impact on their salaries.

Thinking ahead, McCoy also wants to create an environment beyond the meaningful use program and think about how EHRs can bring more meaningful solutions for the U.S. healthcare system. However, this requires a lot of moving parts outside of the EHR, such as mobile health applications.

Although there may need to be improvements to these aforementioned programs and organizations, in the end, McCoy said that there needs a more collaborative atmosphere in order to make the U.S. healthcare system work alongside interoperability and meaningful use.

“We are all in this together,” McCoy concluded in the Healthcare Informatics interview. “The ultimate goal should be to improve care for patients. There are no doctors I know who are out there to harm patients. And to help them [optimize care quality], let’s get some of the impediments out of the way, and let technology support them.”

VNA solution can prove to be a worthwhile investment alongside EMRs. VNAs can preserve the integrity of patient data contained within a variety of file types. Because of this great degree of flexibility, VNAs are more versatile than typical picture archiving and communication systems, which can actually compound interoperability issues for organizations that use different vendors.


News brought to you by TeraMedica, Inc., leaders in healthcare enterprise imaging (VNA) solutions.