“We’re at the golden spike phase of the electronic health record (EHR),” said Frank Byrne in reference to the ceremonial spike that completed the nation’s first transcontinental railway. “We’re at the beginning of this journey,” added the senior executive advisor of HealthX Ventures, a digital healthcare-focused seed fund.
And according to Byrne, there’s more than a bit of catch-up taking place at the moment. “Let’s be honest with ourselves,” he said. “We dug this hole by underspending on IT for years.” Banking was an industry that moved forward with IT as a strategic tool, and the health care field only did enough to get by and survive. “We are going to have to overspend until we get it right,” Byrne noted, “and we’re not there yet.”
The Disruptive Healthcare Conference, held Tuesday in Madison, featured a keynote session titled, “Interoperability – Can’t we all get along ?” WTN News, invited senior executives from leading rival electronic medial records software vendors Epic and Cerner to publicly set the record and dispel disinformation about each company’s point of view on interoperability and patient data exchange. The conversation was civil and revolved many issues that the public has been exposed to and where these competitors agree and disagree on industry standards and how they should be adopted by their customers. Examples were cited that both company’s work closely togethe with mutual clients and when other healthcare provider organizations make a request to link their systems.
Heading into the event it may have been easy to assume that an Epic executive sitting next to a Cerner executive is either a rarity or an impossibility. “It is actually highly usual for us to be sitting next to each other,” said Peter DeVault, vice president and director of interoperability at Epic. “There’s been much too much made about the rift between Epic and CommonWell. There’s a whole lot of water under the bridge.”
“If I buy a toaster and my wife says, ‘It’s lousy; throw it out,’ to preserve domestic tranquility I throw out the toaster and buy a new one,” says Ross Koppel, a scholar in the Sociology Department & School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “If I spend $1.2 billion or $1.7, I am married and I don’t have a heck of a lot of options.”
He says the same is true for electronic medical record (EMR) systems. Over the course of the last 15 plus years, Koppel has studied healthcare IT and pointed out that these systems are severely flawed – at least in part because of the difficulty of breaking free from an ineffective platform.