Data Transport: The Other Component of Interoperability

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Data Transport: The Other Component of Interoperability

Doug Hill, COO

Doug has over 25 years of experience working with federal and commercial customers leading software development projects and driving the adoption of modern software practices and technologies. From being a change agent for VA and Freddie Mac, to seasoned IT Manager for NRC and ONC, to a skilled software best practices coach for project teams at NIH and IRS, his expertise and application of software development best practices has accelerated the client's adoption of effective software development practices to drive business results.

I was at a recent HIT conference, and noted that several speakers talked about interoperability. What each of them failed to say was that transport is a big barrier. Their interoperability emphasis was on the complexity of payload – the data that will be exchanged - ranging from identifying and matching patients, reconciling coding (LOINC –vs- SNOMED), defining minimal datasets, etc. Each of these speakers failed to mention the other component of interoperability (What is interoperability?).

An equally important component of interoperability that is rarely discussed is transport – getting the data from A to B. Historically, transporting data from one system to another has required point to point interfaces, often vendor specific. As data being transported moves from a trickle to a flood (see blog “The Coming Revolution in Health Data”), organizations will find many more connections are needed. 

Fortunately, we are in the age of standards based exchange (eHealth Exchange, Direct, Commonwell, HL7, etc.). Until these exchanges are adopted and become ubiquitous, organizations will need to continue support proprietary connections, while implementing and integrating standard based exchanges. What was once a specialized, low level of effort task of maintaining a few interfaces is quickly becoming a much more complicated effort requiring a full time dedicated IT team focused on maintaining and monitoring these data connections and tracking down and diagnose why specific message(s) were not delivered as expected.

Prior to email becoming a critical business function, email systems were supported part time by a member of the IT staff. Today, organizations dedicating teams focused at operating to this critical business function or they outsourcing email to SaaS solutions. As a result of the market needs and regulatory requirements, Interoperability has been put on this same trajectory. Health care organizations will need to treat interoperability as a strategic capability and make decisions about how to manage and operate the sending and receiving of medical records from 3rd party sources.
 
As interoperability evolves into a core function, one clear solution is RosettaHealth, a SaaS based platform focused on connecting the whole world of healthcare. RosettaHealth provides a single interface to send/receive medical information and maintains connections with any other health provider over any interface. 

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