Our Role in Healthcare Innovation

The way healthcare data is organized today is highly complex and not change ready. There is little to no governance which leads to multiple truths, broken systems, and maintenance and upgrades that can be extremely costly.

Specialization and increasing industry change are forces that continue to contribute to the problems of connecting applications and their data. Whether you are a local or state government, public health organization, healthcare provider or payor, the exchange of clinical information will be critical to meet both regulatory and business viability in the future. Unstable data systems create an environment where both personal security and compliance can easily be breached and we need to avoid this at all costs.

Your future, along with the future of today’s healthcare recipients, depends on choosing the right integration governance solution that efficiently creates and manages intelligent integrations, adequately manages those integrations, and effectively manages and monitors ongoing dataflow.

Doing our part to make a difference in our data-complex world, we developed a revolutionary healthcare product, HealthLX (Healthcare Language Exchange), that was designed with three critically important integration governance capabilities:

  1. Integration connectivity that supports a broad level of service orchestration and data integrity between source and target applications.

  2. Effective HIPAA compliant security between systems supporting enterprise-wide auditability and application service level management.

  3. Monitoring and management of dataflow at the transaction level for enhanced visibility for system-wide performance measurement.

Creating Integrations: HealthLX leverages modern integration best practices and Open-Source technologies to create intelligent connectors that interface source data and external APIs. As a result, creating new integrations is easy and repeatable.

Managing Integrations: Existing connections need to adapt over time to changes in data sources, API’s and functional applications. Because connections are mapped inside the HealthLX integration hub, updating and changing integrations is easier to accomplish.

Managing Dataflow: HealthLX’s management dashboard provides an audit trail of every transaction that passes through it and flags failed transactions providing high levels of security and compliance.


Your Clients are Looking to You for Integration Leadership

It might seem daunting, since transaction and data integration may not be in your wheelhouse, but potential prospects and customers are looking to you for integration leadership.

If you are selling software solutions into the healthcare market, you are selling into a crowded and growing space. Decision cycles get extended, pricing pressures are greater, and the need to interoperate with external systems and data sources is more complex than ever. In addition, integration's rapidly growing importance is moving the market to a much more prominent role in selections and negotiations.

Being in a position to see a number of in-flight software deals, I can assure you that now is the time to turn integration into a competitive advantage for you and your solution.

Here are some recommendations for making this happen:

  • Start by making integration a part of your early-stage qualification process

  • Be prepared for one or more of your competitors to make integration an issue

  • Prepare yourself to be the competitor that uses integration to create competitive advantage

These are fearful propositions because integration may not be a strength for you or your organization, it may slow down the sales process, and your prospective client may not be giving signs that it's a big deal.

Tips on getting started down the path of integration leadership:

  • Understand that nobody has all the answers or solutions - so nobody expects you to know or have all the answers

  • Discover who the thought leaders and forces are that are bringing integration to the forefront (see Will Tesch's latest blog entries for ideas)

  • Determine who in your organization has the most integration knowledge and spend time with them to gain additional insight

Our experience shows that knowledge and understanding are key elements to becoming an integration leader. Remember, your clients are looking to you for solutions and integration leadership plays a big role in gaining that competitive advantage.

HIMSS 2016 and the state of Interoperability

Another enormous HIMSS event came and went. To those that frequent these trade shows, there's always a challenge to cover the floor because of size. This year we walked our miles with the Apple Health App capturing our steps. Reviewing my phone now, I posted nearly 15,000 steps a day at the event. Yay for me! Now what do I do with this information? Therein lies the underlying reality of Healthcare in 2016. I wonder if this same question has been asked for many years except now there's just more data available. In a small way there is a good analogy here.. I saw this same thing at HIMSS16. There is an inevitable chasm our healthcare economy sees between new data and what we should do with it. But, I digress...this post isn't about this new data, instead...it's about how it has value and who will care about this new information in the future so I can help others care for me. Enter in one of the buzziest words of the past few years and the loudest buzz of this year 'Interoperability.' Interoperability has been around for years. So, what happened this year that is different than the past years? Is heightened volume this year a barometer of sorts for the industry truly thinking innovation-like across systems? I think the answer to these questions is 'yes,' but requires some tangible, realistic truths about the momentum before we get excited. So, here's some metadata.

  1. The Office of National Coordination (ONC) announced a plan to accelerate the FHIR standards by way of engaging the private sector in a contest of sorts. Details here.

  2. There was a 'industry-wide interoperability' pledge. Not just any loosey-goosey commitment, but a statement that became a chorus around stated direction for interoperability 'standards.' Could it be?

  3. The Sequoia ProjectCarequalityIHEFHIR continue to provide hope that standards around interoperability's technical challenges are moving forward.

On these three topics, some added insight...

Karen DeSalvo's session on Tuesday, March 1, was a leading indicator that the ONC and the harmonizing effort around the ONC Interoperability Roadmap released last year is proving to be a common theme for the interoperability movement. At a high level, the vision of the Roadmap is a future state that empowers the consumer by putting the patient as the essential target metric to determine what interoperability success will be. The players to meet this consumer-centered future are going to need encouragement politically, financially and ethically. Without these external forces, the industry will continue to languish because of these Triple-Aim purpose or raison d'etre. Notwithstanding, applause should be given to the ONC for providing a means for moving forward. In and of itself, this has not happened with broad adoption across the players within the Healthcare industry. Well done, Ms. DeSalvo.

Another development that was announced at the beginning of the conference by Sylvia Burwell, Secretary of Health and Human Services, was the 'pledge' by the private sector to provide broad adoption of Interoperability across systems. The big three EMR systems that were referenced during her Keynote opening remarks were Cerner, Epic and Meditech, with other leading vendors that have recently followed for the pledge. I couldn't recall where there existed an almost counter-intuitive theme that corralled proprietary vendors to commit to a cooperative effort in how to share data before. Could this be a turning point in the healthcare industry? I was part of the standards movement in the 90s for the retail industry supporting cross-platform standards. I recall the same issue existed then between proprietary POS platforms. Back in the day, IBM, NCR and others eventually joined hands to have backoffice systems talk to each other. Voila, this became the birth of computer-managed inventory and massive foundational improvements in the Supply Chain for retail. There is a natural and inevitable transition happening with EMR application vendors as well. So, everyone...let's define the rules to play nice together. Wait...let's start by making a pledge to define the rules to play nice together. Check that one off the list. Let's see where this goes.

While at the show, my preference is to work the dark alleys or slow-moving corners of the event. Who's in the first row and hardest to get to? Where's the back of the show? That's where I go. So, what did I find this year? Save for the HL7 booth, which was centrally located at the show, the other 'standards' bodies were on the fringe or in hidden poorly lit corridors. I suspect this is due partly because they don't have the gazillions of dollars that other large brands have to market their wares. Instead, they are the collaborative nice people hoping that their ideas are heard and agreed to by those heavy hitters in the main thoroughfares of the show floor. I wonder...who is more interested in a community agreement about how to share information? The big dogs, or the crafty smaller groups. I would submit, the clever, quiet ones who have the smaller lecture settings but pack in the brightest minds to overcome policy, workflow and technology challenges. I witnessed an interoperability prototype conducted at the Sequoia Project booth. The demonstration was a live health data sharing exercise using carequality members. Systems touched included eClinicalWorks, Epic, NextGen and Surescripts. Essentially. the demo collected pertinent information from each of these systems in real-time; or as best a closed-loop demo can illustrate. The fact that each of these system connections was moving data, enriching payloads and collaborating with credentialed and secure connectivity was the value of the demo. Were there oohs and ahhs in the audience? No, not really...but for those contributing minds, there were smirks of achievement that gave all of us another glimmer of hope that solutions are on their way.

There was certainly more at the show than I was able to cover. But, for me, I've learned that its best to unleash the bloodhound in each of us to track down our passions. Mine is trying to glue ugly systems together. Why? As a human race, we can't advance without talking to each other clearly and timely. So, until next year, HIMSS...thanks for keeping the 'interoperability' theme front and center in this industry.