How Interoperable Are You Really?

Jan. 3, 2012
One of the more interesting sub-themes that kept coming up in various guises during the AMDIS physician symposium in Ojai, California last week was that of interoperability/integration. In theory, everyone knows what those terms mean; in practice, especially for the CMIOs who have to help make it happen with regard to clinical information systems, what looks like a "thing" on the surface becomes very pixillated when viewed in close-up.

One of the more interesting sub-themes that kept coming up in various guises during the AMDIS physician symposium in Ojai, California last week was that of interoperability/integration. In theory, everyone knows what those terms mean; in practice, especially for the CMIOs who have to help make it happen with regard to clinical information systems, what looks like a "thing" on the surface becomes very pixillated when viewed in close-up. And CMIOs in particular are justifiably concerned over the physician end-users in their organizations--the ones who go into a frenzy when required to memorize a fifth or sixth username/password, or find themselves hopelessly confused and lost when trying to toggle between and among their organizations' EMR, RIS, PACS, and other systems while trying to find, use, communicate, or share bits of clinical information and images. And even the most relatively advanced hospitals and health systems remain at a considerable distance from everyone's ultimate goals of seamless connectivity and interoperability on behalf of physicians and other clinicians.

In the October cover story, I will be looking for good case studies of CIOs and CMIOs who have made some strides with regard to integration/interoperability, knowing, of course, that no one is even most of the way towards "interoperability nirvana" yet--and probably won't be for some time to come. But I invite readers to contact me at [email protected] to share their organizations' stories. And I continue to be fascinated by the amazingly varied number of approaches there are across healthcare to this decades-old, yet frustratingly persistent, challenge in clinical computing.

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