If you’re coming to the US to find answers to solve your country’s health IT problems, don’t. We haven’t solved very many yet ourselves. However, in my opinion, that can be a good thing.
At this year’s HIMSS conference in Orlando, Florida, I saw a new side to healthcare that I hadn’t seen before. I met with a healthcare provider from Brazil who had come seeking solutions to his country’s interoperability issues. Sound familiar? He came to our booth and sat in on one of our State of the Industry fireside chats. It was obvious that he was not from the US, and he looked engrossed for much of the presentation.
Afterward, he stayed behind to ask some questions and kicked up a good conversation with KLAS’ Colin Buckley, one of the industry’s best minds on understanding the status of interoperability problems in the US.
Responsibility for healthcare is centralized in Brazil, our friend explained, but delivery is spread out among many smaller, disconnected health systems. While the need for interoperability in Brazil becomes more obvious, efforts to fund and fix the problem are just now beginning to take shape.
It’s funny that this man came to the US for answers. Apparently, the news around the world must be that the $34 billion the US spent on putting in EMRs must have resulted in some real interoperability, or at least some tangible benefits. But really, outside of the ability to send a CCD, the impact of the EMRs compared to cost has yet to be seen.
This becomes more apparent as the US increasing looks to these investments to move the needle at the point of care. In fact, according to the latest KLAS study on interoperability, only 6 percent of respondents could even identify data pulled in from another EMR as having any impact on patient care at all! Six percent from a $34 billion investment? Ouch.
This is especially true as the industry increasingly measures the value of technology.
Now, as a positive spin on this, it is awesome that the US has the guts to go out and take risks, even expensive ones. As HIT problems become an international topic, conferences like HIMSS can be gathering places where we can all learn from each other and hopefully begin to tackle problems together.
The United Kingdom: A Place to Watch and Learn
Because interoperability is an international problem, KLAS has been watching the UK market for the past 6 years. We’ve seen the desire for interoperability in the UK healthcare industry deepen and increase. Currently, fewer than half of the care settings in the UK have an EMR. The government has done something similar to the US’ efforts by trying to incentivize their providers into buying and maintaining interoperable EMRs. The initiative is called Paperless 2020 and is backed by a £4 billion investment.
But after the UK’s national and local leaders put together a plan to attack their 2020 initiative, they paused for a moment to try to understand what had been done in other countries and avoid reinventing the wheel. As UK providers discovered what KLAS had done in the US to measure interoperability, they encouraged us to perform a study across the pond in the UK so that they could get a firm grasp on the state of interoperability.
In a serendipitous stroke, the UK providers’ request just so happened to fall at a time where we were looking for a topic to research in the UK and had the bandwidth to tackle such a project. So, in an exciting step forward and with the guidance of UK HIT thought leaders, KLAS will conduct research to measure the state of interoperability in the UIK.
Hopefully the results of that UK research, combined with the work already done in the US, will be a beacon to the rest of the worldwide providers who struggle with interoperability. Fingers crossed!