A forum to discuss ideas, approaches, standards, and architecture to establish and support open interoperability among healthcare IT systems.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Global Warming

I've just had the good fortune to have been able to attend four conferences over the past several weeks, spanning the US and the Globe. Ranging in audience from dedicated conferences hosted by a large healthcare provider to the Australian Health Information Conference in Sydney to the Mayo Conference on the Intelligent EHR, it has been a tremendous experience.

Several aspects of this experience seem noteworthy. At the forefront, however, was a tremendous shift in attitude toward open engagement, dialogue, and collaboration. Not very long ago, proprietary interests were king, with most organizations worrying almost exclusively about their own interests and concerns.

I have been heartened over the past few weeks to see that this mindset has been clearly pushed to the background, and there is a new (or renewed) interest in working together, learning from each others' mistakes, and in moving together as an industry to tackle the problems and challenges ahead.

Several themes seem to be resonant throughout the very different venues I attended. You can expect to see more on each of them in the coming weeks:

1) HealthcareIT is more about healthcare than about IT.
2) It is very hard to get IT to work effectively within a healthcare organization, and much of that work is about the culture and the deployment (and not necessarily the software)
3) The struggles each of us are facing in our own organizations recur consistently across other organizations and even countries.
4) More than ever, there is a desparate need for standards that meet business challenges

I entitled this entry "Global Warming" to emphasize the consistency that is beginning to emerge across organizations and cultures to resource and contribute to similar activities en route to achieving EHR interoperability. Within the US, there was just signed an executive order that directs Federal healthcare organizations to purchase products and direct investment based upon alignment with industry standards.

In Australia, the National e-Health Transition Authority has been backing the use of standards as they align to their emerging architecture. Collaboration continues between multiple different standards bodies and industry groups: HL7 and CEN, HL7 and OMG, OMG and IHE, and so on.

I encourage each of you to look "across" the industry and not exclusively within. Good work is happening everywhere. After my recent Australian trip, it struck me that some of the closest IT challenges and emerging solutions might well be clear across the globe.