“Every time you see duct tape in the world, that’s a design opportunity. Why? Because that’s an indicator that something is broken. Something didn’t perform the way it is designed to. And there is an opportunity to improve it.” — Joe Gebbia, Airbnb

A Hammock team joined 42,287 of the “best and brightest minds in health and IT” at the HIMSS 2017 conference this week in Orlando. The mile-long exhibit floor featured eye-popping technology and next-gen innovations from 1,200 vendors, including Hammock clients Amplion and emids.

But it was in the educational sessions where the “duct-taped places” of healthcare were examined, and where the necessary improvements got hashed out—to issues like big data and analytics, population health, precision medicine, medical device security, telehealth and interoperability.

Interoperability, which describes how systems and devices can exchange data and interpret that shared data, can help a health system accelerate its progress to value-based care. But for two systems to be interoperable, they must be able to exchange and present data so it can be understood by a user. Gaps in understanding abound—and that’s where duct tape is evident.

Using a real patient’s voice to explore gaps in health data interoperability was the goal of a HIMSS session led by M. Maxwell Stroud, lead consultant at Galen Healthcare Solutions, and her sister, Irene Stroud, a patient with cancer. The sisters discussed the difficulties Irene had in obtaining, transferring and managing her health information after being diagnosed with stage 4 non-small-cell lung cancer. Irene’s care ultimately reached across at least three states and a multitude of settings, from hospitals to cancer centers to specialists’ offices. Her journey included a clinical trial and a tote bag full of MRIs, CT scans and legal paperwork. (Thankfully, today, Irene is cancer-free.)

“As a patient with a chronic condition, health data becomes central to life—an additional part-time job to manage who needs what information, and when and how,” Max Stroud said. Though Irene was an informed and engaged patient—bolstered by a healthcare consultant as a sister—she often had to scramble to share critical health information to new and different health providers, a difficult task while fighting a deadly disease.

Healthcare providers and marketers who can zero in on the areas where a lack of interoperability is a barrier to care will be able to usher in tailored solutions that lead to greater patient satisfaction and overall care improvements. They’ll be the ones who get credit for replacing the duct tape with a better, healthier design.

Image Credit | HIMSS



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