Bob Cash Interoperability Steak Sizzle Blog Image

Interoperability: Will the Taste of the Steak Match the Excitement of the Sizzle?

Several years ago, I was in a meeting to discuss the promotion of a new medical service offered by the organization I was working for. One of our public relations leaders wondered if we might be offering “more sizzle than steak.” It wasn’t that we didn’t have a service worth promoting, but he suggested that it might not be fully developed to the point that its quality and benefit matched the level of promotion we were suggesting. 

It was good advice. To remedy the situation, we could either up our game and get our new offering (the steak) to match the sizzle, or we could tone down our promotion (the sizzle) until the program was worthy of greater hype. No part of this conversation suggested that we did not have a good service to offer or that it did not have great potential for good—the issue was really about timing and the matching of messages.

As KLAS continues down a path of measuring interoperability, there is much being said that suggests that some industry efforts of great potential are currently more sizzle than steak. 

Representing this thought is a quote from a Cerner provider:
My understanding is that the CommonWell Health Alliance was put together to develop standards for interoperability, but I wonder how that will really be practical and useful. Tons of vendors join the alliance, but I don't know what any of them are doing to promote interoperability. The CommonWell Health Alliance is still a question mark for me.” 

Regarding Carequality, a similar comment was heard from an Epic provider:
“Epic decided not to participate [in CommonWell], but now we are catching up with Careqality. . . . Epic has done a lot more work on Care Everywhere than on Care Elsewhere. . . . They are trying to catch up now. The Carequality organization is unproven, whereas the CommonWell Health Alliance has done active demonstration projects.”

There is an assumption here that there really will be a tasty, beefy steak at the end of the sizzle.

Many, although not all, providers KLAS talks with put a lot of stock in the CommonWell and Carequality sizzle. They hope for, and expect, greater and more effective data sharing with outside organizations that will ultimately benefit patients. But sizzle is not steak. Sizzle creates anticipation and even a bit of mouth-watering, but you can’t chew and swallow it.

So, when the cooking is done and the steak is truly delivered, will the taste of the steak match the excitement of the sizzle? For the sake of the committed vendors and excited providers, I certainly hope so, and KLAS looks forward to measuring actual satisfaction with the meal. For now, it is really hard to measure the value of the sizzle!