Moving healthcare into a new state of openness

John D. Halamka, Jonathan Bush | Modern Healthcare | February 13, 2015

The future of healthcare belongs to social, mobile, analytics and the cloud. Although most industries have embraced these technologies, the healthcare IT industry has been slow to adopt them. The country has taken good first steps to digitize the paper-based medical industry, but now it is time to build on what we've done, enhancing usability, better engaging patients/families, and preparing for the future of reimbursement, which is based on value, not more healthcare.

“Meaningful use” has been a foundational catalyst to accelerate IT adoption. However, it has come with a price. As new regulations mandated new functionality in a compressed timeframe, features were “glued” onto existing platforms, often creating awkward user interfaces and hindering clinicians. We need an agile approach that can rapidly absorb lessons learned and refine the software for all users. Cloud-hosted software, which brings the same version of the same functionality to all users in an instant, can do that.

The idea of embracing the Internet in 2015 should sound appealing. In the past, hospitals and professionals were motivated to keep data silos. In a fee-for-service world, incentives are aligned to do more and document more. In an accountable care world, incentives are aligned to deliver the right care at the right time and share data openly. Hospitals have failed to embrace an open model for information management and sharing. In many ways, this is because there has never been an Internet-based option to do so. The industry standard has been to build and deploy information systems that serve only the organizations that sign the software purchase agreement. We still live in a disconnected-care ecosystem where manila folders and fax machines still exist, missing an opportunity we can't afford to miss: to connect care across the continuum...