There’s a healthcare revolution going on out there. The digital age came upon us, new technologies arose, and the American healthcare system underwent a seismic transformation. With the HITECH Act, accompanying the 2009 economic stimulus, and the Affordable Care Act in 2010, there’s been a national push for the adoption and advancement of health information technology, most importantly of the interoperability of health information technology. But what exactly does interoperability mean, and why is it so important?
I was visiting a new client recently, discussing a project we were doing at their hospital to clean up their equipment data. While looking at some of the data in their legacy system, we saw many inconsistencies and mistakes that had managed to creep into the database through the day-to-day activities of the users over the years. For example, they had several device types, manufacturers and models describing a single piece of equipment, which was causing inventory reports on that equipment to be incorrect. With multiple naming conventions for one specific piece of equipment, it was difficult to manage recalls and alerts, because the database had to be manually screened to find everything affected. It was even more concerning that the inconsistencies in the data caused problems in preventative maintenance scheduling for the equipment.
We live in an information age where reliable data is everything. Informed decision making with technology and the data behind it is not just a smart choice, but a way of life for most of us. Better and faster information is available at our fingertips, and it’s making our lives easier. Technology plays a major role in delivering that information, but we often forget that in most cases, technology relies significantly on other humans to provide that information in the first place.