Follow feds’ call to action on interoperability
Just over 10 years ago, Apple made a difficult decision that would have an extraordinary impact on its future. At a time when the company had only 3% of the computer marketshare, two executives defied Steve Jobs to make iTunes compatible with the Windows operating system. Making iTunes interoperable with the system used by the other 97% of computer owners subsequently revolutionized the recording industry and the way we experience music.
If the audacity of two individuals transformed the way we enjoy music, imagine what healthcare would look like if it could harness that same drive for interoperability, building systems that allow for easy sharing of health and medical infor- mation. In June, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology called on others to join it in developing a defined roadmap to collectively achieve health IT interoperability as a core foundational element of better care at a lower cost for all.
We’re all in. Since 2009, the West Health Institute has been working to make high-quality healthcare more accessible and to improve the ability of medical devices to share data. This work is critical to transforming our healthcare system.
In intensive-care units today, there can be up to 10 medical devices monitoring a patient’s vital signs. But because these devices can’t speak to one another, they can’t seamlessly share information. This results in increased patient risk and clinical inefficiencies, because clinicians must manually enter large amounts of data into electronic health records. It also leads to medical errors, which can put patients’ lives at risk. According to the Institute of Medi- cine, more than $130 billion is wasted annually through inefficiently delivered services, including mistakes and preventable complications that device interoperability could address.
We should all be challenged by the ONC’s call to action to enable our healthcare system to provide the same integrated 24/7 service as the banking, retail and cellular industries. We should be encouraged by recent bipartisan actions on interoperability from the House Energy & Commerce Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee. Federal, state and local governments and the private sector need to work side-by-side to achieve this vision. Together, we can have the audacity to create a smart healthcare system that will help people live healthier and make our nation economically stronger.