MedAllies' A. John Blair, MD, to provide expert testimony on EHR interoperability, explain why clinical relevance and functionality are essential

Jan 29, 2013, 11:00 ET from Hudson Valley Initiative

Blair to discuss the challenges facing provider efficiency, including "two-factor authentication"

FISHKILL, N.Y., Jan. 29, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Any effort to advance health information exchange must be clinically relevant and enhance–not impair–provider efficiency. That is the message A. John Blair, III, MD, FACS, CEO of MedAllies and president of Taconic IPA, is taking to Washington, D.C.

Today, he will testify before a joint meeting of the Health IT Policy Committee and HIT Standards Committee. These federal advisory committees provide recommendations to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology on the development and adoption of a nationwide health information infrastructure.

Lack of interoperability has hampered the potential of electronic records. Physicians must be able to receive information about their patients as they transition across care environments, and it should seamlessly flow into their EHR systems. This belief lies at the heart of his testimony.

Interoperability must be more than sending medical email to inboxes, according to Blair: Interoperability demands true EHR integration--integration at the point of care that is consistent with each provider's workflow. The challenge isn't the technology itself, but how useful it is to the providers. "The issues with which we must grapple are functionality of the application for the providers and its clinical relevance," he explains in his written testimony.

One potential barrier to ease of use is the move to two-factor authentication. It is, as the name suggests, a two-step approach to security--an approach already common in the consumer world. It requires "something you know" (e.g., a password or PIN) and "something you have" (e.g., phone, ATM card or fingerprint). As health information exchange expands, the EHR is the access point for multiple networks. Security is essential, and two-factor authentication is inevitable. But ease of use for the provider is a challenge. For example, will the provider have to authenticate at each transaction or at each session? Each approach would have a markedly different effect on provider acceptance or resistance of the technology.

Any effort to advance interoperability must be clinically relevant and respect clinical workflow. "If the provider honestly believes these enhancements will improve care and efficiency--and particularly if they are indirectly tied to increased reimbursements for improved health care value--interoperability will advance rapidly. If the providers do not believe this, nothing else we do here will make much of a difference in the long run."

Blair's expertise comes from decades in the industry.  He has served as CEO of MedAllies since 2001; it was one of seven sites selected by the ONC for a Direct Project pilot. As TIPA's president, he leads a nearly 5,000-member physician group at the forefront of health care transformation.

About MedAllies
MedAllies, founded in 2001, has extensive experience with EHR implementations and workflow redesign to improve clinical care. It provides unmatched expertise in health information exchange and Direct services. MedAllies operates the THINC eXchange, an HIE designed to increase the completeness of information at the point of care, improve care coordination and standardize quality and public health reporting in New York's Hudson Valley. It has provided Direct services since the Direct Project's inception and has several pilot sites in New York state. MedAllies Direct Solutions builds on existing technology to achieve interoperability, with physicians using their current EHR systems, allowing information to flow across disparate EHR systems in a manner consistent with provider workflows. MedAllies Direct is a tool to advance primary care models that emphasize care coordination and improved care transitions and support patient-centered care.

About the Hudson Valley Initiative
The Hudson Valley Initiative is an effort among three organizations--Taconic IPA, Taconic Health Information Network and Community and MedAllies--to revolutionize health care delivery through a shared vision to improve the quality, safety and efficiency of health care in the community. These three organizations leverage health information technology, physician practice transformation and value-based purchasing in pursuit of care delivery that is patient-centered, coordinated, accessible, high quality and efficiently delivered through sustainable financial models. To learn more, go to

SOURCE Hudson Valley Initiative