#EmpowerHIT: From Connectathon to HIMSS Interoperability Showcase™

After 25+ years living in the US, I thought I was done with culture shocks. After 18 years spent in health IT and enterprise imaging, the culture I’ve known has been largely competition is fierce, and we place competing vendors in conveniently labeled buckets: enemies, frenemies, loose partnerships and tight partnerships. This over-simplification is often necessary to effectively navigate the treacherous waters at large trade shows.

From the Connectathon to the Interoperability Showcase: At the IHE Connectathon North American Connectathon 2017 (January 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio), my long-running presumptions about (some) competitors have been shattered. The level of collaboration, openness and collegial atmosphere I’ve witnessed are at the opposite end of the spectrum I’ve known.

I’d like to recognize Keith Simmons at Epic, and Jeffrey Ritz, Dan Drury and Keith Boone at GE, whose efforts working with Dicom Systems during the Connectathon were admirable and relentless. As a result,

  • We now have bidirectional workflows setup successfully between Dicom Systems, GE and Epic.
  • We are ready to show the Dicom Systems Unifier platform as the enterprise imaging contributor in a live cancer-related simulation at the HIMSS Interoperability Showcase™ at HIMSS17.

There is no doubt that the personal relationships built at the Connectathon will endure, and that future benefits will be derived from our Connectathon interactions. First-hand experience integrating with various vendors has removed a veil of unknowns by allowing us to make conscious contact with actual solutions, vs. making assumptions about how some protocols work.

This invaluable experience will translate into benefits for our mutual customers by substantially shortening the learning curve that seemingly plagues every new integration project. The question is, will this experience translate into lower integration costs for our customers?

In our experience, health IT vendors tend to have short memory when it comes to leveraging prior integration knowledge. Pricing for integration projects is a constant, making it seem as though we have to reinvent the wheel every time a new interface is created.

This brings up an important question: should there not be an economic benefit associated with increased adherence to industry standards? It appears that the price elasticity of interfaces lags behind the interoperability progress made by the industry. As vendors master more interoperability standards, the rigidity of interface pricing has remained constant.

We will continue to test and analyze industry standards, such as the familiar DICOM and HL7, as well as other, more recent standards such as XDS (supported by Dicom Systems since 2011), DICOMweb (supported since 2013), and FHIR (supported since 2015).

The standards-based HIMSS Interoperability Showcase at HIMSS17 brings us back together in a live workflow simulation with some of our collaborating organizations from the Connectathon, as we continue our efforts to enhance interoperability in health IT.

This post is also featured on the HIMSS17 site.

health IT; interoperability; HIE;