Athenahealth's Jonathan Bush is assertive about the changes he sees necessary in healthcare data sharing. As co-founder and CEO of a healthcare cloud company, he has an obvious interest in getting vendors to be more open. His analysis of the current situation with regard to interoperability is refreshing.
First, he says there's a difference between interoperability and interoperation. Lots of systems have the technical ability to interoperate with other systems, but it's difficult to implement that ability. Bush makes an analogy with remote controls in the home. The SCC insists TV remote controls must be interoperable with other vendors' devices. But the manufacturers don't make it easy for the user to make that happen – so we use multiple devices. Ability isn't the same as action.
Bush's second key insight is that to make interoperability a reality, you don't need to make everybody change everything they're doing – you just need to provide a minimum, widely supported entry mechanism to different silos. In the health domain, the simple ability to connect directly to a patient healthcare record would do the trick.
In the meantime, the reality of his business looks like this: “Bush says athenaNet has 160,000 current connections to different provider systems. 'Probably 10,000 of them are to different copies of just 10 different products,' Bush said. 'It's the only way to get actual interoperation happening among these already-interoperable but pre-Internet systems.'
The reason this simple step has not yet been taken is that vendors still believe they have competitive advantage in discouraging data sharing. But the curtain must be coming down on this attitude. Healthcare is the new paradigm of a data-centric, collaborative enterprise. Value must come not from attempting to own data, but by using data creatively – yours, and other people's. Healthcare Dive