The Interoperability Challenge

The Interoperability Challenge

Remember the days when your Apple computer couldn't talk to a PC or use the same software? In a few short years, the IT industry solved the problem. Wouldn't it be nice if the sick care IT community could do the same?

The simple reality is that, given all the rules, issues and stakeholders, making sick care information interchangeable and devices interoperable, is , well, just harder.

Here are some issues:

  1. All of us will get paid to do more for less
  2. There will not be a single EMR. About 80-85% of hospital beds are using one of three EMR vendors.. Then, there are all the rest
  3. Next generation HIT technologies will be all over the board
  4. The focus is on increasing provider efficiency
  5. Data will increase exponentially
  6. Social determinants will play an increasing role in outcome disparities, and given increasing inequity, will get worse
  7. More and more the focus is on "telling the patient story" to those who need to know.
  8. Patients are already telling us their stories on social media. We just don;t know how to translate that unstructured, non-discreet data and incorporate it into the single source of truth
  9. Interoperability is another weapon in our arsenal we use to fight the 4th industrial revolution
  10. As if that's not enough, add in all your genomics and other -omics data. Do you have a headache yet?
  11. Data is by itself worthless. The challenge is translating it into patient defined value. What is the goal of the patient, not the medical industrial complex?
  12. We need to rethink HIPAA in the age of value based care that depends on interoperability to be sustainable.
  13. The more garbage data we put in, the more garbage we get out
  14. If and when interoperability becomes a reality, why do we need HIE's (health information exchanges)? What should be their value proposition then?
  15. Do you know anything about TEFCA? Is it really needed or just another shiny new object?, like blockchain and AI?
  16. As providers and payors become "payviders", how will that drive the sense of urgency to make interoperability a reality?
  17. Should all the dysfunctional EMRs be scrapped instead of them being the tail wagging the dog?
  18. Who is going to pay for all of this?
  19. What should be the role of government ?
  20. What should be the role of the patient and their authority and responsibility when it comes to managing their own data?

Some of you are reading this on a mobile device, some on a PC or laptop running iOS, Office 365 or an Android operating system. Wouldn't it be nice if you could do the same with your sick care data?

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs

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  • Owen Hansen

    Interesting read

  • Phil Deazley

    Healthcare systems must be connected to share patient information throughout the hospital network more efficiently and with better results.

  • David Woodham

    The interoperability of electronic prescriptions provides greater control of drugs and patient safety.

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Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA

Former Contributor

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is a professor emeritus of otolaryngology, dentistry, and engineering at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Colorado School of Public Health and President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at He has created several medical device and digital health companies. His primary research centers around biomedical and health innovation and entrepreneurship and life science technology commercialization. He consults for and speaks to companies, governments, colleges and universities around the world who need his expertise and contacts in the areas of bio entrepreneurship, bioscience, healthcare, healthcare IT, medical tourism -- nationally and internationally, new product development, product design, and financing new ventures. He is a former Harvard-Macy fellow and In 2010, he completed a Fulbright at Kings Business, the commercialization office of technology transfer at Kings College in London. He recently published "Building the Case for Biotechnology." "Optical Detection of Cancer", and " The Life Science Innovation Roadmap". He is also an associate editor of the Journal of Commercial Biotechnology and Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship and Editor-in-Chief of Medscape. In addition, He is a faculty member at the University of Colorado Denver Graduate School where he teaches Biomedical Entrepreneurship and is an iCorps participant, trainer and industry mentor. He is the Chief Medical Officer at and and Chairman of the Board at GlobalMindED at, a non-profit at risk student success network. He is honored to be named by Modern Healthcare as one of the 50 Most Influential Physician Executives of 2011 and nominated in 2012 and Best Doctors 2013.

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