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Part I of II: Close the Gap

For more than 10 years, industry associations, such as HiMSS, have been exclaiming the virtues of interoperability for its ability to help ‘close the gap.’

This gap could mean gaps in care that result in potentially less effective treatment, as well as, less efficient operations resulting in greater costs for all stakeholders. The eHealth Initiative recently released the 2020 Roadmap which provides a framework for transforming our healthcare system in five years, starting with interoperability.

The word ‘interoperability’ is a buzzword. I prefer the word sharing instead. You and I learned how to share early in life – especially if you have siblings. Allowing someone else to utilize a resource you value is more appealing if they reciprocate the gesture. You can play with my GI Joe, if I can play with your Transformer. Win/Win.

If we agree that the ‘close the gap’ objective means:

  • building a coordinated system of care devoid of redundancies and inefficiencies;
  • connecting patients with PCPs, specialists, extenders and community resources;
  • supporting patients as a cohesive team throughout episodes of their care; and,
  • launching proactive population health actions that deliver long-term cost savings and satisfaction,

Well, then we need to do a better job of sharing.

The reticence in the healthcare industry to make leaps forward is understandable - human lives are in the balance and mistakes go beyond fiscal ramifications. Healthcare providers are also still shaking out the issues between cooperation and competition. While we are all working to close the gap, let’s remember that competition and collaboration are not mutually exclusive.

Other industries, like banking and telecommunications, took steps to leverage interoperability  years ago. Imagine if ATMs were not interoperable between banking companies. Developments in new and less costly financial tools would have crept along and consumers would have fewer choices and less banking freedom today. Sound familiar?

Has your organization pushed the boundaries of innovation far enough to make meaningful advancements in healthcare? What are you doing to close the gap?    


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