January 25, 2013

Fighting the Interoperability Battle

Interoperability, compatibility, or connectivity all refer to people and devices working together for productivity. When is this going to become a reality? As long as we have competition and profit greedy businesses and people, this is not likely to happen. Everyone is so concerned about proprietary rights and squeezing the maximum amount of profit out of a product that they are unwilling to work together for fear that another company might learn something from their device.

A step in the right direction may have happened on January 14, 2013 when the Masimo Foundation hosted the Patient Safety Science & Technology Summit in Laguna Niguel, California. This inaugural event convened hospital administrators, medical technology companies, patient advocates and clinicians to identify solutions to some of today’s most pressing patient safety issues. This is the report of Peter Pronovost from John Hopkins in his blog on Armstrong Institute.

Then on January 21, Mike Hoskins at Diabetes Mine wrote a blog about Bastian Hauck attending the recent Digital Health Summit, a new part of the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the world’s biggest tech gathering that brought tens of thousands to Las Vegas from Jan. 7-10. Bastian teamed up with the international non-profit Continua Health Alliance, an industry group focused on standards for medical devices to communicate data and synch up to work together.

These two blogs show that people are attempting to bring industries together for the benefit of helping serve patients and remove barriers to hospital and individual healthcare. Will they succeed? That remains to be seen. We can hope and pray that companies are big enough to see that by working together now and creating an interoperability standard, that their profits could even become larger in the long-term. Consumers can help by constantly reminding them that divided they will fall. Consumers are becoming more tech savvy and may just find ways to profit from the inactivity of overly greedy companies.

If this has you interested, you may wish to read a related article about the Patient Safety Science & Technology Summit and the Patient Safety Pledge that appears at the end of the article.

I am also encouraged that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has the Office of Standards and Interoperability (OSI) to:
  • Encourage development of health IT standards
  • Move toward the seamless exchange of health data across all stakeholders: Federal agencies; State, local, and tribal governments; and the private sector
To achieve these goals, OSI's roles include:
  • Enabling stakeholders to come up with simple, shared solutions to common information exchange challenges
  • Curating (overseeing) a portfolio of standards, services, and policies that accelerate information exchange
  • Enforcing compliance with validated information exchange standards, services, and policies — to assure interoperability among validated systems

Read more about this here.

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