Monday, March 11, 2013

Time to hack medicine

CommonWell is a new "idea" being pushed by the six largest EHR vendors, sans Epic. The idea is "interoperability" - which is in itself a bit strange because one of the "certification" standards behind EHR certification was "interoperability." I use quotes on interoperability and certification for EHR, because as we know they are a complete joke.

Just no

The amusing part about CommonWell is, and by amusing I mean sad, the words "open" don't appear anywhere in the announcement. Open frameworks. Open standards. The word, does not exist.

What is being proposed is just another locked in, vendor specific standard which does not solve the issues in health care. Now that we are digitizing, we need to share data. Now, a vendor can store the data any which way they want. A flat file, relational database, MongoDB - but we must have open API access to interface with the data.

Any proposals or working groups that fail to create open standards is a failure from the start.

Real innovation

What sparked this blog post was reading this article about Phillips crazy expensive lightbulbs. $60 lightbulbs? Are you insane?

Well, maybe - but as with any technology, early adopters pay through the nose. Remember the first cell phones? $3995 for an hour of talk time. Now, you can get cell phones for free.

Back to Phillips

If you read through the Phillips article, you'll see what Phillips did. Well, they didn't do it at first, but someone figured out how to. Two people reverse engineered the API Phillips Hue lightbulbs and wrote their own Apps for Hue. Brilliant. 

Phillips caught on to this and has now decided to open up the API for developers - because - it drives adoption. Even more brilliant. 

So, here we are and we see the free market driving product development. Phillips realized "hey people want this" and delivered. 

EHR vendors, heavily subsidized by tax dollars shoved a product down the throats of doctors (who, didn't really care because hey it was free to them) - which now we realize was a bit of a "woops."

CommonWell talks the talk about interoperability - but they fail to start to address the real issues facing EHR. There are 300 plus vendors for EHR platforms. 300. If we want medical HealthIT to evolve, they ALL need to operate on the same, open standard.

Just imagine

Now, open your eyes to what we could actually accomplish if we had open standards for EHR. We could access data. We could perform analytics on patients. Patients could OWN their data. But instead, our health information, the most important information to our physical well being, is locked up in a proprietary database - which we ourselves paid for.

Imagine if the Silicon Valley innovator could build a product on top of the EHR to figure out who is the highest risk to develop diabetes. The highest risk to have a stroke. What if your taking of your Prevacid once a day was automatically sent back to your doctors EHR so he knew if you were being honest. 

The possibility is there and is real, only if CommonWell actually wants to improve health care.

And yes.

I realize Hue is a closed standard, but it is more to the point of the matter. Phillips realized the demand and adoption of their product could be heavily improved by providing open access to their product.

Hey, EHR vendors, take a hint.

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