Audacious Inquiry’s President, Scott Afzal, was recently interviewed by Jessica DaMassa from WTF Health to discuss some of Ai’s current work and share some HIE best practices. Scott shared his perspective on the National Networks for health information exchange, federal policies, and Ai’s solutions to enable connected healthcare.

Watch the full interview here:

This video was initially published by Healthcare Finance, a publication of HIMSS Media.

Below is a transcript of the conversation:

JD: What are you audaciously inquiring about? I love the name of your company, that’s great.

SA: Ai is a healthcare IT and health information policy company focused on connected care, so building and implementing solutions for connected care.


JD: And I understand that the federal government is one of your bigger clients and you’re doing some work with HHS I think, is that right?

SA: That’s right.


JD: So I’m really curious about the health policy advising that you do here. How are you working with the government and how are you advising them from a health information technology standpoint?

SA: The specific office within HHS is the Office of the National Coordinator that we work with, and we work with ONC on a range of issues, from standards adoption and technology to certifying EHRs. We built some of the tools that vendors use to validate that their products meet standards, and we work on a whole range of policy issues around MACRA, 21st Century Cures, and other topics that they are pursuing.


JD: What does the health IT audience need to understand about health policy around those topics?

SA: So when you think about the evolution of Health Information Exchange around the country and the promotion of policies to accelerate HIE, ONC and HHS more broadly have a huge opportunity through things like TEFCA, the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement, to promote HIE. Those have to be tailored very carefully to support connected care rather than inhibit it, and we advise on a range of topics around those types of things. For example, when you think about TEFCA and the actual common agreement itself, we work with ONC to help think through what are the concepts within the Common Agreement that HIEs and other network operators would need to understand when tailoring core requirements of such an agreement.


JD: Okay. I mean that’s such a huge impact on a lot of the things that are happening in this space and we have an audience that’s pretty diverse in terms of where they sit in health IT… I mean everybody from people who are working in giant companies, giant hospital systems, all the way to startups. What you would advise them on how to best develop things so that they are pushing towards some of these larger interoperability programs and standards that have been set up?

SA:I would say that at the moment there isn’t a clear winner in terms of what the solution is going to be for enabling interoperability and health information exchange. There are vendor-led national networks like Carequality and CommonWell that are doing really good work and are actually expanding rapidly, and they are meaningful contributors to connected care, but there are also community-based organizations at the state level that are creating health information exchanges and those two things are converging in powerful ways. It’s not an “either/or”, it’s a “both and…”


JD: Are there any best practices that are emerging?

SA: Sure. I think the best practice that we try to pay attention to is focusing on the user story—being really specific around what the actual use cases that you’re trying to meet.


JD: And who are you defining as the user in that story?

SA: You know it’s a range of stakeholder groups. Typically, we’re focused on providers in clinical settings at the point-of-care. Care managers within Accountable Care Organizations or Medicaid MCOs. It’s a collaboration of stakeholder groups that provide care management, care coordination, and treatment to patients.


JD: Tell me a little bit about some of the different projects you’re working on. I know you said you’re consulting on the health policy side of it, but you’re also actually developing solutions and deploying them, so talk to me a little bit about the work you’re doing there.

SA: Our flagship solution is something called the Encounter Notification Service® (ENS®) that started fundamentally around the ability to tell a primary care provider in the community when their patient was arriving at the hospital or being discharged so that they could take next steps on care coordination. That really basic use case expanded to meet a whole cohort of health plan, care management, and public health use cases; it’s the starting point off which we’ve based a larger framework for health information exchange using triggered events to go out and grab information, sometimes leveraging national networks to deliver at the point-of-care. Our team is very much focused on building out that stack and deploying it for our customers.

To hear more perspectives from Scott, check out his recent blog post that reflects on the evolution of Audacious Inquiry over the past 15 years in business. Over the next month employees from around the country will gather at the Baltimore headquarters to celebrate team accomplishments.

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Michelle McCoy
Manager | Audacious Inquiry