I was encouraged to see you call out “exchange of information” as a key takeaway from this year's Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's annual conference (“Opening communication”
). It's a topic that seemed to come up in many conversations. The challenge is to transform vast amounts of data into useful, meaningful information that can help drive healthcare improvement and value through what we call clinical business intelligence.
HIMSS in the past year started its own Clinical & Business Intelligence group, with more than 2,800 members in just six months. This is exciting and long overdue. At the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value, we are trying to spread similar lessons through our Clinical Business Intelligence Network, which rolled out its founding members in conjunction with HIMSS 2013. I would encourage industry leaders to look more closely at the state of business intelligence in their own organizations.
Executive vice president
of national healthcare information
ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value
While I generally agree with the direction of Merrill Goozner's editorial (“Heads in the cloud”
), his consumer examples are problematic. None of the examples he chose (bank records, bill paying, retirement asset performance, etc.) are the equivalent of health IT interoperability.
There is no one place where a financial adviser and a consumer can simply reach in and extract all relevant information to create a financial history and profile. College grades are not connectable to retirement accounts. Banks do not share information in a single consumer site, nor do they connect to financial histories from previous banks. Each are independent systems and each set of records is based on the interactions with that institution only.
In finance, the closest thing to electronic health records is perhaps the credit-rating services. But would you trust your health records if they appeared like your various credit scores? Information is power. Until there is something even more powerful driving interoperability, it will take its good old time getting to where we need it.
I was at HIMSS earlier this month, and we all saw what a big deal interoperability is for practices and providers (“Heads in the cloud”
). We need to get information to both the patient and the provider that will matter and improve the level of care. We all see that health information exchanges don't really have any sustainability. It seems futile for the long run to deal with them.
Why is interoperability left to electronic health records? Any given provider has only a portion (perhaps even a very small portion) of a patient's medical history. Any given provider knows perhaps only a portion of medications that a patient is taking currently or has taken. Wouldn't it make more sense for the insurance plans (which almost everything funnels through) to make this information available to providers through some sort of communal plan system?
Then an EHR could make a call to the plan system to get all of the information. Or if a provider does not have an EHR that is capable of doing this, they could use the information they have about the patient and access a secure Web portal to gain access to the information that they need. A patient could switch insurance companies 20 times, and not lose any of their information.
We're busy trying to catch the small fish, when the big fish have everything we need.
Manager of development
Henry Schein Medical Systems