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Value-Based Care Needs Purposeful Health IT Interoperability

Panelists at the Value-Based Care Summit emphasized the importance of having a purpose behind health IT interoperability activities.

By Kyle Murphy, PhD

- Health IT interoperability is a key ingredient for achieving success in value-based care, but it is also one that healthcare organizations may fail to comprehend fully.

Health IT interoperability at the Value-Based Care Summit

During the opening panel of Xtelligent Media’s Value-Based Care Summit, speakers addressed the importance of approaching health IT interoperability as a means to an end rather than an end in itself when discussing IT tools critical to the success of value-based care initiatives.

According to Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative President & CEO Micky Tripathi, value-based care implementers need to avoid putting the cart before the horse.

“Anyone who starts with technology, I guarantee, is going to be a failure,” he told attendees in a session about architecting the value-based care environment. “In order to succeed generally, you have to start with what it is you want to accomplish — which has nothing to do with the technology, but it’s got to do with what are the goals that you have at the end of the day.”

Once those questions about end-goals are answered, health IT decision-makers on the provider side can move on to choosing the right hardware and software. So then what are the right kind of tools?

READ MORE: Noninvasive Healthcare Tools Support Value-Based Care

“Functionally, it’s a combination of interoperability, analytics, and an electronic medical record at the end of the day,” Tripathi said. “Now, that’s easier said than done because those are often three different things. If you’re in a single-system environment where you have all Epic or all Cerner and everyone you care about or most of who you care about is on that single platform, then you have a lot of the problems you don’t need to solve behind you and you can accomplish a whole lot more.”

“Most organizations aren’t in that situation,” he continued. “Most organizations are in the situation of I’ve got my hospital on this and my own employed group on this — they’re on Cerner or they’re on athena — and then I have my community docs who are on ten different EMR systems. How do I figure out the interoperability, the analytics, and the care management tools that are going to cut across all of that? That’s the biggest IT challenge that I’m seeing.”

Fellow panelist, Darin M. Vercillo, MD, agreed. The Chief Medical Officer at Central Logic explained that a majority of providers were working in mixed health IT environments although he did express optimism about the progress being made toward making these systems interoperate.  

“The pendulum is actually swinging back in that direction where they are recognizing we can get these systems to work together and talk to each other. Whether you’re on one side of the equation or the other with regard to your IT stack, there are answers to this,” he claimed.

Again, having a use case for health IT interoperability leads to identifying the key activities necessary for making it so between the relevant technologies.

READ MORE: Pros and Cons of PACS, VNAs for Medical Image Data Storage

Healthcare organizations on enterprise health IT solutions are likely better off when it comes to addressing health IT interoperability as part of value-based care, they are not completely in the clear.  

“We’re fortunate to not have that problem. We have our hospital-based internists, our hospitalists, our geriatricians, our primary care docs, our case management system, our population health all on the same EMR. But we still have outside IT needs as well,” said Mike Hebert, RN, MSN, MBA, of Reliant Medical Group.

The Senior Director UM of Care Management & Geriatrics warned against standing up a health IT infrastructure prior to answering questions about its role to support clinical objectives.

“Some organizations drive their care based on the IT platform or the IT infrastructure that they either build our buy,” he maintained. “I try to do it the other way around because if you start using this for this and this for this and they don’t communicate, you lose efficiencies but also effectiveness.”

That approach of considering the ends before procuring the means also rings true for highly integrated organizations bringing new health IT solutions into their value-based care technical infrastructure.

READ MORE: Health IT Infrastructure Integration Systems Expected to Rise

A common theme expressed during the one-day event is that is only valuable insofar as it is actionable. Suffice it to say, data will not prove useful to clinicians, patients, and caregivers unless it was collected and analyzed with a purpose in mind. Health IT is only useful when it enables end-users to take meaningful action.

Dig Deeper:

How to Develop a Value-Based Care Implementation Strategy
Breakdown of Health IT Interoperability Standards, Organizations


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