IHE Patient Care Coordination – Past, Present, and Future: Part I

The Past

As co-chair elections are around the corner it got me to thinking about where the Patient Care Coordination (PCC) domain has been, where we are today, and where we are going. We operate in such a fast changing world in health IT and if you blink your eyes you will miss opportunities to innovate and impact the future of health IT in a positive way. This will be a multi-part blog post that takes a look at the past, present and future of the PCC domain.

My first IHE Patient Care Coordination (PCC) meeting was early in 2007 at the first face to face meeting for writing profiles of that cycle. I was not only a green software engineer (more or less) but also completely new to the world of health IT. My involvement at that time was a whopping six months, and that six months was spent primarily working on a new login process for my company’s patient portal application. So much for bringing any clinical application development experience to the table. Fortunately I was surrounded by peers in IHE whose knowledge and experience far exceeded my own and I had the opportunity to learn from and lean on their expertise. My task was to help write an obstetric profile, one that was based on various paper standards in use. At the end of that summer we had published the Anteparum Summary (APS) content profile (now in Final Text). In addition to participating in creating the APS profile I also had the opportunity to implement this profile along with the family of ITI profiles for document exchange (XDS, PIX, ATNA, CT) within an HIE.

In the following years in PCC we continued working on several other profiles covering a broad range of clinical use cases, providing guidance on content as well as integration. My focus was specifically around obstetric profiles, focusing on the ante, intra and post partum phases of the birthing process. I switched companies and continued developing interoperability solutions for the next several years. Along the way my IHE PCC colleagues bestowed the honor upon me of co-chair of the technical committee. I did that for a couple of years, and it was then that I developed a much more complete understanding of the processes within IHE as well as the importance of and opportunity of this organization to influence the world of health IT and ultimately improve patient care and outcomes.

After one term I stepped down as technical co-chair due to workload constraints (my wife and I also were blessed with a total of four children from 2004 to 2011 so family was certainly a big part of my life, and still is). A year or so later one of my colleagues convinced me to run for PCC Planning Committee co-chair, I thought on it for about 30 minutes and accepted the nomination and was voted in. As we are moving into another year of the IHE development cycle co-chair elections are upon us once again and I intend to run for another term of PCC Planning co-chair. Should I have the honor of serving my domain for another two years, I intend to sail us in some slightly new directions, focusing more on workflow and a bit less on content (but certainly not excluding content!), but more on that later in a subsequent blog post.

From the inception of the PCC domain in 2005 until the present (2014), PCC has published upwards of 35 profiles and several white papers. It has largely filled a gap in the industry providing content template guidance that has been eagerly adopted by implementers as well as international programs and initiatives (e.g. Meaningful Use, epSOS, ASIP Sante). We are now at a juncture of figuring out where to go next. Content template guidance will likely be a part of our future, but we must also consider our role in the workflow space, and how we can help to improve patient outcomes by providing guidance on the use of standards around interoperability.

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