Early this week I read an article written by Neil Versel of Meaningful HIT News entitled, “Big health systems to promote connectivity“. This article was part of the Care Connectivity Consortium announcement. In summary, Geisinger, Group Health Cooperative, Intermountain Healthcare, Kaiser Permanente and the Mayo Clinic have launched the Care Connectivity Consortium as a joint effort to promote sharing electronic health data. This new organization is tauted as “an historic interoperability collaboration.”
It is refreshing to see these industry leaders highlighting the importance of interoperability in the modern healthcare setting. Here at Perficient we consider interoperability to be the “digital nervous system” of healthcare. Although given less attention, interoperability is a core component to both Electronic Health Records (EHR) and Health Information Exchange (HIE). Interoperability not only reduces or eliminates very high levels of redundant data entry for physicians, nurses, and patients, but also connects medical devices for data collection into new EHR/HIE systems in this age of telehealth.
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During their webcast on Wednesday, the Care Connectivity Consortium outlined:
- Goals of the Care Connectivity Consortium
- The importance of patient-centered care (Read our thoughts on patient enablement in ACOs here)
- How interoperability supports high quality, patient-centered care
- Thoughts on sharing electronic data in a secure environment (Read our thoughts on securing data in an interconnected healthcare environment here)
The fact that this news gained great momentum in social media and traditional news channels denotes the excitement for this new organization. However, there are still important considerations to keep in mind. Versel ended his article with an excellent question key to healthcare in general and interoperability campaigns specifically. He asked, “I’d really like to know the standards they’ll be using for data sharing.”
Great question indeed. Here are my thoughts:
The idea that a simple ASCII text document is the lowest common denominator of the medical record is scarcely better than scanning patient records. It will not take long for stakeholders, including doctors, nurses, and patients, to get frustrated with the lack of discrete data elements. Without discrete data elements, these stakeholders will be cutting and pasting information to compare cholesterol, blood sugar results, etc. It would be better to output XML to be read into today’s word processing documents and spreadsheets, which provides the timely data needed to make medical decisions.
What are your thoughts on the data standards that will be used by the Care Connectivity Consortium? Enter a comment here, or come see us early next week in Las Vegas at IBM Impact. Visit us in the Industry Zone at IZ-4 or check out our IBM Impact landing page