Kent Gale Blog 12

Interoperability: Was It a Fair and Accurate Measurement?

The 2015 interoperability study is my all-time favorite KLAS study in my 19 years of doing studies. The interoperability research has done the most of any study I have done to dispel misperceptions and rumors and transparently report on how individual vendors are delivering. To get things right, we had to face the fact that gathering research without having it tagged as biased or flawed was a difficult challenge. KLAS needed guides, coaches, and critics on the journey with us. The purpose of the final blog in this series is to recognize those courageous, smart, and passionate industry leaders who helped bring everything together.

We invited several provider executives, recommended by the major vendors, to form a review panel and serve as appropriate and effective guides and critics. The six amazing participants built the questionnaire. Denni McColm, CIO at Citizens Memorial and a MEDITECH and NextGen Healthcare client, was a key participant representing community hospitals. She and her team did a great job of testing the questionnaire in a practical way. Mitzi Cardenas, CIO at Truman Medical Center and a Cerner client for both acute and ambulatory care, had a great focus on discipline and was passionate and aggressive about getting things right. Mike Smith, Lee Memorial CIO and an Epic client, had five members of his team that were intensely interested in testing and validating the effectiveness of the questionnaire. Patrick O'Hare, Spectrum Health CIO, using both Cerner and Epic, had a technical player on his team go deep with us to test how the study should be administered. Rick Schooler is CIO at Orlando Health and represented a large organization that is deeply using Allscripts; his team carefully monitored how the study was going to work. Susan Heichert, CIO from Allina Health, an Epic client, had her CMIO involved in early calls to represent physicians appropriately. All of these individuals invested serious time and brain cells in setting up the study, participating, and helping review the findings prior to publication. In addition, Mitzi, Susan, and Mike served at the Keystone Summit as panelists in the “next step” discussion.

Four other key industry leaders took the challenge to help set up an even better research study for 2016. We tagged them the Fantastic Four: Daniel Nigrin, MD, CIO at Boston Children’s Hospital; John Halamka, MD, CIO at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Micky Tripathi, CEO of Massachusetts ehealth Collaborative; and Stan Huff, MD, HL7 phenom and CMIO at Intermountain Healthcare. My hat is off to them for their hours after hours of intense discussion, debate, and soul-searching to guide our ongoing efforts to meaningfully measure interoperability.

Finally, the most credible research around interoperability happens best when vendors meticulously oversee what KLAS is doing with a passion to get things right. Four industry players opted to fill an oversight role. A giant Kent hug goes out to Allscripts, athenahealth, Cerner, and Epic. They reviewed the questionnaire, the methodology, and the ongoing activity, investing hours of vetting the approach and the survey document determined by the provider panel.

The findings from the “Interoperability 2015: Are We Lifting Together?” report could not have been achieved without the intense efforts and commitment of so many. Were the individual vendors, panel members, and Fantastic Four pleased with how the respective vendors performed? That question can be answered by each individual. What is most telling to me is the feedback we got from so many providers confirming the validity of the report findings about their own vendors. This comment came from a thoughtful and transparent CIO: “I'm sure the report will be well received by providers; vendors’ responses will likely vary in relation to how well the vendors look in the report. My two favorite vendors, Allscripts and Cerner, continue to suffer from their complexity and cost.” Thank you to all who participated and gave time, guidance, and feedback, and a special thanks to those who enjoy creating transparency in a world cluttered with sometimes useless or incorrect information.

Kent Gale, signing off until April 2017. I’ll be a missionary in Brazil until then.