Ross Koppel, professor of sociology and medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, is concerned that the transition to digitized healthcare records is neither efficient nor cost-effective. He says: “The problem is that a lot of the software out there is really clunky, is not user friendly … and the structure of the market is such that the vendors of these programs are not as responsive to the needs of clinicians as they should be.”
According to Adam Ludwig at Technonomy, Koppel goes on to say “the high cost and protracted implementation time of digital record-keeping programs leave hospitals little flexibility to make improvements based on feedback... One solution, he suggests, is for the government to push harder to enact data standards and oversight.”
Koppel's analysis highlights a couple of important aspects of data standards. First, industry standards are always faster to apply when compared with creating specific workarounds between incompatible systems. Second, the time lags involved in refining or evolving proprietary standards to meet changing business needs are unacceptable. And third, well managed industry standards integrate responses to the changing business environment through their maintenance and improvement processes.
The key to the solution is indeed standards. But the sector needs to look to itself for leadership. Healthcare providers must agitate for standards implementation. They don't need government to tell them what they know they ought to do.
By the way, in case you're in doubt as to whether there are really lots of data flows in healthcare, take a quick look at slide #8 in Kathleen Connor's presentation at X12 & HL7. Here is the Koppel mention in Techonomy