One of the things that excites me the most about the potential of private social networks for healthcare is the potential to make the information technology go away and put the focus back on the patient-physican interaction and quality of clinical care.
Current electronic health-care systems are built as monoliths. They are constructed and sold as all-in-one solutions, largely because of the failure of healthcare provider organizations to successfully manage collections of smaller, more specialized applications. This failure is caused by two factors:
- The inability of smaller vendors to cooperate and produce simple methods of supporting each other’s need for interoperability
- The failure of IT departments at healthcare institutions to actively seek out and support solutions with vendor-neutral standard interfaces.
Since the specifications are designed by the IT departments, and the negotiations with the vendors are also done by the IT department, the ultimate choice of system will be something that is primarily intended to keep the IT department budget within bounds. If that involves having less functionality for the ultimate users, that is not something the IT department is aware of. It also has no incentive to find out.
What appears to us as a problem of closed interfaces is then rooted in a deeper problem, namely that closed interfaces is exactly what the current IT departments wish for. First and foremost, they do not wish to have any open feature that enables the medical departments to ask for, and possibly get, the smaller best-of-breed systems they need for clinical care, since it would often involve committing more resources for IT configuration and support.
As long as the authorities let IT departments scrimp on medical IT support by specifying solutions that inhibits any attempts at improving health-care IT beyond what the all-in-one vendor deigns to produce, we will not be able to improve health-care by better IT use. This is basically a political problem.
Martin Wehlou, CEO
Martin has been a medical doctor and a developer for more than 30 years. He was trained in general and vascular surgery, intensive care, trauma, and general practice. He also holds the CISSP and CSDP certifications. He is the main designer and developer for the iotaMed suite, and is one of the co-founders of the company – see http://mitm.se/
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