Ten years ago, investing in Big (health) Data to manage population health didn’t make sense. There just wasn’t much digital data. Then in 2004, President George W. Bush kicked off a project designed to provide most Americans with an electronic health record (EHR) by 2014. President Obama accelerated that push, and put a series of incentives behind it, with the HITECH Act in 2009.

Today, more than 60 percent of doctors use EHRs every day, generating tremendously valuable clinical data.

Early advocates believed EHRs would eliminate the problems caused by disjointed, incomplete and sometimes even unreadable paper records. The vision is to create care plans based on a full portrait of a patient’s medical journey, over their entire lifetime — or what’s become known as “one patient, one health record.”

No one disputes the benefits: better quality and convenience of patient care, increased patient participation, accuracy of diagnoses and outcomes, care coordination as well as efficiencies and cost savings. With all that data, data scientists would have something to work with. They could crunch the numbers and arrive at insights that could lead to better outcomes.

But interoperability remains the big beast to wrestle down. Collecting the data is one thing; freeing all the data from among many different sources and healthcare systems remains one of the most pressing challenges in healthcare today.

A primary focus at this year’s HealthBeat will be recent advances in tech to achieve greater connectivity between data across different healthcare systems— whether from data collected by clinicians and hospitals or data generated by patients via health wearables.

A number of sessions at Healthbeat will be touching on this urgent issue, featuring numerous healthcare and industry leaders. Here’s just a handful of what to expect:

Coordinated care: Connecting patients and data: Pravene Nath, CIO of Stanford Hospital and Clinics, Stanford University Medical Center; Yohan Vetteth, VP Healthcare Data and Analytics, Stanford Hospital & Clinics; and Jordan Shlain, MD, Founder and Chairman, HealthLoop.

Rebels with a cause: Smashing barriers and opening architecture: Seth Joseph, VP Corporate Strategy, Surescripts; Dan Haley, Assistant General Council, Athenahealth; and Tina Grande, Chair, Confidentiality Coalition, Healthcare Leadership Council.

The Connected hospital: Improving patient care through integration:  Michael Blum, Chief Medical Information Officer, USCF and Ross Mason, Founder & VP Product Strategy, MuleSoft.

Check out the full agenda at HealthBeat coming October 27 – 28, featuring some of the most innovative companies working in health technology today. Register here to save your spot.

Thanks to the following industry leaders for supporting HealthBeat 2014: AARP as Gold Partner; CareCloud,Nexercise, Norwest Venture Partners, California HealthCare Foundation, ON24, and Altosoft as Event Partners; and Twine Health as a Nest Partner.