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Interoperability and The UK: At the Center of History

Have you ever been at the center of history? I ask that question because for my whole life, I have been chasing history: driven by the desire to be a part of something bigger than myself, to be a part of a moonshot. To be able to look back and say, “Yep, I was there when that happened, and I was part of it.”

Maybe that’s because as a young boy, my father was a history teacher and opened my mind to the lessons that history can teach us. He had an amazing ability to open the chapters of history and paint such a vivid picture of events and people, of great figures overcoming insurmountable odds. Since then, I have always wanted to be in the middle of history.

You’ll have to forgive my sentimentality, but I can’t help but feel like I am at the center of something truly historic and amazing. It is happening in healthcare, right now, today. And I really believe that we will look back and say that what happened was truly amazing.

One might say I am a little crazy. But when our current global health system is bleeding money from wasted efforts and exhausting caregivers, and when patients can’t get the care they need, there has never been a more noble cause than focusing on billions of patients around the world.

The approaching “page in history” is interoperability. The great historical figures are people like John Halamka, Stan Huff, Dan Nigrin, and Micky Tripathi: those who have led the charge to surmount the barriers to interoperability and now are trying to assemble the industry to find measurable solutions to the problem.

Because according to KLAS’ latest interoperability research, only 8% of providers can easily find available data from an external EMR in their workflow, and only 6% feel that the data they are getting impacts patient care.

 Interop Chart

These historical changes will not only impact the US, rather they will reach across the globe as world healthcare leaders work in concert to develop interoperability best practices and standards, all with the patient at the center.

History in the making. In preparation of our 2017 UK interoperability study I have spent this past week, with a team from KLAS, in the UK touring its great counties and visiting with regional health trusts, local commissioning groups, technology and service providers and the National Health Service (NHS). It feels like KLAS has gone back to class, learning the nuances of the UK health system.

 We talked with healthcare providers eager and excited to solve the problem of interoperability in their country and become a beacon for the rest of the world.  We saw suppliers large and small willing to be measured for the good of interoperability benchmarking, despite reservations of how they might show up in KLAS reports. It felt like an anthem of “For King and Country.”

We saw the determination and commitment of a government who is committed to facilitating excellence.

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This will be a historic study, a benchmark and baseline of where the state UK interoperability sits, and they are approaching this study with unique flare and taking it a step further then we did in the US.

In the US, healthcare leaders define interoperability across the following dimensions:

1. Is the data being exchanged. 

2. Can the data be located?

3. Is the data found within the flow of the caregiver?

4. Is the data having an impact at the point of care?

But unlike the US where we focus interoperability primarily around acute and ambulatory settings, the UK is going to expand the measurement across mental and social care as well thus establishing a measurement of interoperability across all placed-based care settings. Wow, the US should take note and follow suite.

So, after an exhaustive week of trains, planes and automobiles, I am convinced that if anyone can solve the interoperability problem, the UK providers, suppliers and government can. They are energized and motivated and focused on delivering better patient care. KLAS is excited to be in the middle of history as we measure the state and report back to the leaders in the UK later this year.