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Interoperability Takes a Village

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From early in my career to my current role as a consultant, I’ve seen both the reasons why all of us in the industry should continue to push for standards-based interoperability and how champions of the cause are able to educate others on its importance and encourage them to take action.

As healthcare IT professionals, we are the lucky few who, while being subjected to the cumbersome and burdensome processes that every patient experiences, know in the back of our minds why we are being asked for the same information repeatedly. But hearing a frustrated family member ask, “Why don’t all my doctors have my (fill in the blank test result)?” is difficult.

We know that a comprehensive, integrated approach to care isn’t unrealistic. However, we continue to put people through these frustrating processes when we have the technology to make it better.

Sadly, we also know the answer: change takes time, initiative, effort, persistence and money. None of that is simple, common, or in unlimited supply. Therefore, it is incumbent upon those of us who are the lucky few to understand all of this to embrace the challenge of change. We all have a responsibility to continuously educate and advocate for the exchange of data that utilizes interoperability standards and frameworks.

Sorting Through the Interoperability Jigsaw Puzzle

Some of the most fulfilling moments in my career have come from my exposure to broad stakeholder participation from across the care continuum. Especially at the point when those diverse stakeholders realize they have one thing in common – the need for the same data to be easily available and exchanged between them.

I like to think of this ecosystem as a jigsaw puzzle. Throughout the entire puzzle, there is an ongoing struggle of constantly sorting through the pieces to find the right ones. At the end, when the last piece finally falls into place and the image appears, you feel such a sense of accomplishment and wonder at how it all connected.

Bringing the care team together to connect the individual feels like a puzzle where all the pieces contribute to the bigger picture. And just like a puzzle, these pieces won’t come together on their own. It took a peer, a champion, a change ambassador! You are one of these key ambassadors for change.

We Are All Interoperability “Villagers”

One of my favorite sayings is, “it takes a village.” That village is made of “villagers,” each individually contributing, but collectively making a difference. Our interoperability journey is no different.

Interoperability, just by the sound of the word, conjures a picture of multiple interwoven lines. Each line is important, but connected to others, they become more than themselves and create the broader image: the end goal.

We must remember that each of us is important to furthering the efforts. It will not only take a village to participate in standards-based interoperability, it will take a village to educate, convert and do the heavy lifting necessary to connect healthcare in our nation, and one day around the globe.

It is incumbent upon all of us to carry the torch and continue pushing forward with interoperability. We must continue to remember that while this is not solved by just one person, it does start with individuals. Interoperability takes on many forms and many routes to reach the end result, all are important to the cause. Let’s form the village to solve the puzzle and get the pieces to start falling into place.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog or by commenters are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HIMSS or its affiliates.

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