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Healthcare Industry in the US Struggles to Share Data

by Andrew White  |  October 20, 2017  |  Comments Off on Healthcare Industry in the US Struggles to Share Data

Despite the mandates, despite the efforts and good well and intentions, it seems sharing data remains a difficult task in healthcare.  My techtarget email today included this headline: Data sharing among healthcare’s top obstacles to business-IT alignment.  Of course, it is not physically hard to share data.  There are lots of “integration” technologies that can share data very well.  My colleagues talk about the technology evolution all the time: Converging Data and Application Integration: A Step Toward Pervasive Integration Using a Hybrid Integration Platform.  The greater challenge is not actually related to technology.  The greater challenge concerns interoperability and motivation.  And to be picky, I don’t mean interoperability in a technical sense – I mean semantic interoperability.  It turns out that to achieve interoperability (meaning two or more systems with different designs or architectures working together) requires three kinds of interoperability:

  • Technical (physical connections)
  • Data and semantics (what passes through the pipes)

Everyone knows about these two but the first one get’s all the attention since it gives the impression that, once achieved, everything works fine.  What happens is that two telephones are connected, but one of them shares French and the other German.  Worse, to actually establish semantic interoperability in the data one actually needs to understand the business processes that each consuming/publishing app follows, and this leads to outcomes and so motivation.

Until and if Health IT puts alignment of outcome as the primary driver for achievement of interoperability, the vendors and most of the users (health organizations) will continue doing the work in the same old way and they will continue to get the same old response.

I have additional details in some other blogs on the topic, in case you are interested:

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Category: health-it  industry-standards  interoperability  

Andrew White
Research VP
8 years at Gartner
22 years IT industry

Andrew White is a Distinguished Analyst and VP. His roles include Chief of Research and Content Lead for Data and Analytics. His main research focus is data and analytics strategy, platforms, and governance. Read Full Bio

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