Complete interoperability is far from a novel concept in healthcare. It’s something we have been hearing about for years, and it’s something we still are still aiming to achieve.
In this new age of medical data management online, our promises of granting patients easy access to health records, connecting facilities globally, and popularizing Telemedicine are largely dependent on this concept of interoperability. The future of healthcare hinges on our ability to connect healthcare systems worldwide. So then, what’s the hold up?
To sum it up briefly, we are getting in the way of ourselves. While regulations are put in place to protect us, they can also sometimes hinder the innovation process. Passing anything in healthcare requires the complete agreement and cooperation of large committees. Naturally, processes are slow in the regulatory culture, and the ability to make overarching decisions about interoperability becomes arduous.
Additionally, perhaps incentivizing hospitals to achieve interoperability through Meaningful Use is not the most effective option. Controversial as it may seem, maybe we should instead switch our focus to technology vendors. After all, they are the ones with the power to dictate the compatibility of their platforms. It’s paramount that healthcare IT vendors bear some of the accountability to break down silos in an effort to support cross-vendor interoperability. We are already seeing some vendors leading the charge, like our partner, atheneahealth. Athenahealth has proactively addressed this issue by proposing “The HIT Code of Conduct”. At its core, this guideline creates a uniform set of high standards that medical professionals should demand as they invest in technology services as a means to improve care delivery and interoperability.
It’s time we all connected. When healthcare institutions have the ability to communicate with one another, amazing innovations will surface in medicine. While we do have a ways to go on the interoperability front, as an industry, we are making massive leaps in the right direction.
What do you think about the interoperability bottleneck? What can providers AND vendors do to take action? Let us know in the comment section below.