Years ago, when I began working on my first health IT project, interoperability seemed like a magic buzzword. It was a long time ago, but I remember “drinking from the firehose,” learning about datasets, databases, interfaces and information sharing.
Initiating this first project was an arduous process beginning with defining organizational goals, the problems to solve and the metrics to be satisfied. “Where should we be begin?” “How do we plan for this?” “How much will it cost?” “Will this tool successfully allow us to provide better care?”
These are questions that can make you want to put your head in the sand, ending the project without it ever beginning. Though I was tempted to quit, I instead timidly moved forward, deciding that I needed a plan to get started. I wanted to locate the right people who had the right information so that I could become savvy and develop an effective approach.RELATED: HIMSS Redefines Interoperability
I began to do research to find hospitals and other organizations trying to solve similar challenges and analyzed their solutions. I attended industry conferences, read blogs, watched videos, read articles and discussed with peers. I corresponded with professionals from all over the world and requested information from large technology vendors. Some of what I learned was useful, some of it wasn’t, and I spent a lot of time going in different directions. It was exhausting.
Identifying Similarities and Differences
Through my efforts, I discovered every organization’s situation is unique. Your technology journey may not match with someone else’s and you may not find another organization that mirrors your organizational challenges. Your needs will be unlike others’, just as your patient population is diverse and the community you serve is different. However, there were also similarities to others that we were able to identify and leverage. We talked through these resemblances until I was confident enough to make solid decisions.
Eventually, I settled on a path to implementation for my organization. I was pleased that others had shared their experiences and lessons learned but most importantly, I realized an interoperability journey doesn’t have to occur in a silo.RELATED: A Work in Progress: Takeaways from the ONC Interoperability Forum
Case Studies in Interoperability
The HIMSS Interoperability & Health Information Exchange Work Group set out to build case studies documenting interoperability journeys. Throughout this effort, we explored topics such as:
- Identifying organizational stakeholders
- Prioritizing technology problems to be solved
- Establishing a governance structure to make vital decisions
- Determining the needs of a population health platform
- Patient registries and reporting
- The role of business processes such as change management and training
- Establishing a technology budget
- Getting organizational buy in
- Managing implementation success and failures
I invite you to learn about the challenges organizations face and how they address these obstacles and solve them with interoperable patient-centric approaches:
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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Originally published August 23, 2018, updated February 25, 2019