Interop Blog Image Dec 2015

Keystone Summit: Uniting Health IT Vendors

I get goosebumps when I get to work with vendor executives who exhibit the courage and integrity I would want in my vendor if I were responsible for a healthcare organization and the patient care we delivered was impacted by them. A similarly thrilling opportunity to watch great leaders in action just occurred as the result of vendor CEOs urging KLAS to carry a symbolic Swiss flag by helping speed up the development of real interoperability (IO). Two major events opened the door to the opportunity to watch these most senior vendor executives in action: the 2015 KLAS Keystone Summit (held October 1–2 at Zermatt Resort, Midway, Utah) and the KLAS IO Study (which became available October 17 in partnership with the CHIME Fall Forum). Today’s blog explores the courage, integrity, and tenacity displayed by vendor CEOs at the KLAS Keystone Summit. Subsequent blogs will explore the humor and tenacity at the Summit, how those same characteristics and actions have been exhibited following the summit, and the IO study itself, including the study’s findings.

The KLAS Keystone Summit focused on uniting vendors in the creation of a proactive private-sector solution to knock down common barriers before the government acts to legislate a solution. The timing was great as the energy around IO, standards, data blocking, usability, and security already had the attention of federal agencies and Congress. We now face imminent legislation—with measurements, rewards, and punishments—aimed at ensuring that the mega government investment in electronic records bears the promised IO fruit. The questions remain 1) Do vendor CEOs believe it is possible to unite to solve the interoperability challenge? 2) How proactive and committed are they to making a unified IO solution happen? 

KLAS and the 36 provider executives who were present at the Summit are confident a unified vendor voice can make a difference. What motivated each executive to participate? Was it a pure focus on knocking down IO barriers? Did they show up to appear committed? Did they think their KLAS scores would get better if they came? Did they want to rub shoulders with their peers? The real question is how they felt in their hearts. Did this feel exciting because it was a chance to really collaborate and move forward? Tag me as an idealist, but I still think we have hearts and can make miracles happen. 

While the Summit timing was right, continuing courage, tenacity, and unity from CEOs will be the keys to moving the agreed-upon actions forward. My previous blog said the Summit was either a United Nations (a Marc Probst analogy) or a Continental Congress (my visual). Getting 12 highly competitive super senior executives together to agree on anything would seem to require a miracle, yet the October Summit, orchestrated by providers, culminated with unanimity around a measurement tool and approach to really measure progress.

The story began in early 2015, when key vendor CEOs and presidents committed to attend the Summit, including:

Allscripts’ Paul Black
athenahealths’s Jonathan Bush
Cerner’s Zane Burke
eClinicalWorks’ Girish Kumar
Epic’s Judy Faulkner
GE’s Jan De Witte
Greenway’s Tee Green
Healthland’s Chris Bauleke
McKesson’s Patrick Blake
MEDHOST’s Bill Anderson
MEDITECH’s Hoda Sayed-Friel
NextGen’s Rusty Frantz

Each CEO/president’s commitment to attend was given and taken seriously. As the date approached some CEOs/presidents started to rethink their attendance. Some questioned the value if other key CEOs failed to show. One expressed concern that the Summit might be a rock-throwing session with no positive outcome. Another asked whether a specific CEO was really coming; they had heard that person was backing out. One couldn’t imagine the Summit being a productive event but came to keep their commitment. The morning of the conference, 10 of the 12 committed vendor executives were there. One had a serious family emergency, understandably canceling at the last second. The other missing CEO decided a new business opportunity superseded the commitment. The 36 provider executives participated enthusiastically, cheering their vendor’s engagement or bemoaning their vendor’s lack of energy or attendance. These providers invested their time and energy, without compensation, to make a difference, and they counted on their vendor to do the same. The Summit concluded like a Continental Congress: highly motivated, competitive leaders came up with a unified solution. Let’s see what happens next. 

The following blogs will focus on what happened next.