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DeSalvo Says We Need Common Interoperability Standards – I Think There’s More To It

Posted on September 17, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I came across an article on FierceHealthIT which has a really fascinating quote from Karen DeSalvo, National Coordinator for Health IT. Here it is:

“What seems that it would have been helpful is if we had agreed as an ecosystem–the government, the private sector–that we would have a set of common standards that would allow us to have more seamless sharing of basic health information,” she said. “We’re moving toward that with the industry, but I think what that’s created is a complexity and aggregation of data … In hindsight, maybe some more standardization, or a lot more,” was necessary.

Is lack of a standard what’s keeping healthcare from being interoeprable?

I personally don’t think that’s the biggest problem. Sure a standard would help, but even with the best standards in the world if organizations see data sharing as contrary to their best interest then no standard will overcome that view. It’s been said many times that we have an issue of desire and will to share data. It’s not a technical problem. Sure, a standard would be helpful once there is a will to share data, but if organizations wanted to share data they’d figure out the standard.

Later in the article, CommonWell Executive Director Jitin Asnaani said “Standards are not standards because we say they are; standards are standards because everybody uses them.

This is the problem. People don’t want to share health data and so no standard is being used. I still wish they’d blow up meaningful use and use the rest of the money to incentivize organizations to start sharing. People went bat crazy implementing an EHR as they chased government money. I’d love to see healthcare organizations go bat crazy becoming interoperable as they chased the rest of the government meaningful use money.

Is Full Healthcare Data Interoperability A Pipe Dream?

Posted on July 11, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

It’s always been very clear to me that healthcare interoperability is incredibly valuable. I still wish most organizations would just bite the bullet and make it a reality. Plus, I hope meaningful use stage 3 is blown up and would just work on interoperability. I think there are just so many potential benefits to healthcare in general for us not to do it.

However, I had a really interesting discussion with an EHR vendor today (Side Note: they questioned if interoperability was that valuable) and I asked him the question of whether full healthcare interoperability is even possible.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. As we discussed it more, it was clear that we could have full interoperability if the data was just exported to files (PDFs, images, etc), but that’s really just a glorified fax machine like we do today. Although it could potentially be a lot faster and better than fax. The problem is that the data is then stuck in these files and can’t be extracted into the receiving EHR vendor.

On the other end of the spectrum is full interoperability of every piece of EHR data being transferred to the receiving EHR. Is this even possible or is the data so complex that it’s never going to happen?

The closest we’ve come to this is probably prescriptions with something like SureScripts. You can pull down a patient’s prescription history and you can upload to it as well. A deeper dive into its challenges might be a great study to help us understand if full healthcare data interoeprability is possible. I’m sure many readers can share some insights.

I’m interested to hear people’s thoughts. Should we trim down our interoperability expectations to something more reasonable and achievable? We’ve started down that path with prescriptions and labs. Should we start with other areas like allergies, family history, diagnosis, etc as opposed to trying to do everything? My fear is that if our goal is full healthcare data interoperability, then we’re going to end up with no interoperability.

101 Tips to Make Your EMR and EHR More Useful – EHR Tips 16-20

Posted on December 13, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Time for the next entry covering Shawn Riley’s list of 101 Tips to Make your EMR and EHR More Useful. I met someone at a conference who commented that they liked this series of posts. I hope you’re all enjoying the series as well.

20 Data collaboration is key to patient safety
I think this tip might need to be worded, “Data collaboration should be key to patient safety.” Unfortunately, it’s a mostly unrealized dream at this point. You might even be able to say that data collaboration will be key to patient safety. There really are amazing use cases where data collaboration can improve the care patients receive. It’s a sad state of affairs that so many of the major EHR companies are dead set on protecting their walled gardens. One has even gone so far as to say that patient safety is in danger with multiple systems. Certainly there are some risks associated with multiple systems, but the benefits far outweigh the risks. In fact, patient safety is at stake thanks to those who won’t participate in healthcare data collaboration.

19 Know how customizable the clinical work flows are!
This is a good tip when doing your EMR selection. It’s incredibly valuable to understand how the EMR handles clinical workflows and how well those workflows fit into your established clinical workflows. I’m a proponent of doing the best you can to use established workflows when implementing an EHR. Then, over time adjusting those workflows as needed to gain more efficiency.

18 How easy is it to customize the system overall?
I’d take this EHR tip from a couple angles. First, is how easily can you customize the EMR system. Yes, some of it could be the EMR workflows that I talked about in EMR Tip #19 above, but it could be a whole set of other options (billing, scheduling, messaging, etc). The second part of this suggestion relates to how well this EHR will adapt to the constantly changing clinical environment. Will they be able to handle ICD-10 without too much pain for you? Will you be able to make it work in an ACO environment? Healthcare is constantly changing and so you want to make sure your EHR can be customized to fit your changing needs.

17 Know work flow can be hard coded to ensure compliance.
There are times when hard coding the workflow is incredibly valuable. Certainly this will frustrate some providers, but if done correctly most will understand the need to hard code the workflow to ensure compliance. It’s a fine line to walk, but there are plenty of instances where hard coded workflows can do wonders to improve the care you provide.

16 Ensure easy access to the system via multiple platforms.
As much as providers might not like checking in on the EMR remotely, it’s often absolutely necessary. So, it’s important to ensure that your EMR is available on every medium possible. Can it be connected to remotely? Does it work on the latest devices? Yes, the iPad has a huge portion of the physician market share right now, but we’ll see how long that lasts. Every year a new device comes out and you’ll want an EMR vendor that’s keeping an eye on this movement and making the EMR available on the best technology.

If you want to see my analysis of the other 101 EMR and EHR tips, I’ll be updating this page with my 101 EMR and EHR tips analysis. So, click on that link to see the other EMR tips.