By Brian D. Handspicker 

Inside joke: Based on the high level of enthusiasm and engagement in our weekly webinar last Friday, I’m proud to say that our proof-of-concept initiative, Project Unify, is on FHIR! 

Insights From May 22nd Webinar

More on that later. First, I want to thank the 230-plus participants in the discussion, which was a  largely-technical update and brainstorming session titled “Project Unify (Part 1): Advancing Progress on Building Cross-Domain Interoperability across Health and Human Services.” Please join us for Part II, which will begin at noon Eastern this coming Friday, May 29. Register Now for Part II >>

Examples of the questions and comments from our team of presenters, as well as the attendees from across the U.S. and beyond, included the following: 

  • We know that formulas for identity matching (a critical component of Unify) are used in healthcare, and we know this approach will always result in some false positives and negatives. So why isn’t federated identity management considered? Can approaches from other interoperability accelerator projects be leveraged?
  • Can use-case scenarios be devised to examine potential negative repercussions of interoperability across domains? This question was raised because most use cases, including some that NIC is devising, are built on the premise that improved information-sharing and coordination leads to better outcomes.
  • There are so many state systems (ex., those related to Labor and Social Services) that are still running on COBOL programing language – and, as a result, will need federal support to move to 21st Century frameworks. The coronavirus pandemic has amplified the need to move this forward expeditiously!
  • Project Unify’s integrated framework will allow individuals/patients to access numerous streams of data that are being stored about them on a wide variety of different systems. Our attendees pointed to this part of the project as particularly important. 

About Project Unify

For readers who don’t know much about Unify, it is a unique proof-of-concept demonstration designed to advance interoperability and information sharing between Health and Human Services, as well as other domains – such as education, family courts, etc. that impact health and well-being. The ultimate goal is to enable a holistic, person-centered view of individuals and the services they receive. One of the information-sharing standards on which we’re focusing is the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources, or FHIR (ergo the inside joke at the start of this blog). Join Project Unify Group >>

The presenter’s at last week’s webinar discussed some of the benefits our project aims to provide by demonstrating that health, human services, education, and justice information systems can:

  • discover common patients/clients
  • map and model data based on domain-specific data standards
  • exchange data among systems using domain-specific protocol standards
  • define content based on domain-specific vocabulary standards
  • implement exchanges based on security best practices
  • support privacy and authorization best practices 

Project Unify Core Team Participants: Experienced, Diverse and Knowledgeable

I’ll close by calling out our team of presenters, who did a terrific job of keeping attendees engaged for the entire 90-minute session. In particular, I’d like to thank Dr. Kristine McCoy, Executive Director at Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) Health Group, who is working with us to link Project Unify with the federal Integrated Care for Kids (InCK) initiative. Other presenters included Dave Walsh, Unify’s co-leader; Pradeep S.B. Podila, Public Health Information Fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Susan Fox, Unify Engagement Community Manager. 

Join Project Unify Team

If you’re interested in being a part of Project Unify’s efforts, join Project Unify Group and contact Dave Walsh. This collaborative group is looking for technical and subject-matter experts, developers, documenters and testers, along with anyone who just wants to gain a better understanding of how to provide interoperable, cloud-based solutions.


Register for May 29 webinar, “Project Unify (Part 2): A Deeper-Dive Technical Session on NIC’s POC Project" >>  

Join Project Unify Group >>


Please share your comments/questions in the comments section below, and/or by joining in our upcoming webinars.


Votes: 0
E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of The NIC Collaboration Hub to add comments!

Join The NIC Collaboration Hub