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A Developer’s Perspective on Winning with Open Systems

EDITOR’S NOTE: On September 28-29, Allscripts hosted a Health 2.0 Codeathan in our Chicago headquarters, challenging developers to connect their applications to Allscripts EHR. Brock Heinz of Spaulding Clinical connected his cloud-based EKG system to the UAI and saved EKG documents into a patient’s records in only 2.5 hours. Here’s Brock’s take on why open architectures are so important for healthcare IT. 

Screenshot of EKG

 By Brock Heinz, Spaulding Clinical

As a society, we face unprecedented challenges to provide quality care for our loved ones.  With massive challenges comes massive opportunity and energy for innovation.

Traditionally, innovation has been stifled in the health care arena because of the barrier of entry.  Data is tightly guarded within the walls of the hospital, and EHR vendors give the impression they are the only ones who should be able to provide the solutions: “it’s my ball and you can’t play with it!”

Solution providers go to each hospital individually and beg for the opportunity to work with the EHR vendor.  In my experience, this was only facilitated by the hospital pressuring the EHR vendor.  For small solutions providers, the reward wasn’t worth the risk and the effort.  But, the stakes are too high and people’s lives are at risk.  The closed model cannot go on.

What’s the solution?  

  1. Provide a highway.  Too often the analogy for openness is described as tearing down the walls to create an open system, which brings to mind chaos for the sake of openness.  Order must be maintained. A highway is a better analogy: highways have medians, painted lines and speed limits.  Highways have basic rules to follow, but still empower people to move.
  2. Foster an environment of innovation.  Reward the providers of solutions; tell their stories; encourage others to be a part of the solution; create a community.  It’s vital we understand our core competencies and use them for a greater good.

What does this this mean in practice?  

Medicare just announced it plans to fine hospitals that have too many patients readmitted within 30 days of discharge due to complications.

Spaulding Clinical, where I work, has a solution for this problem for cardiac patients with our handheld cloud-based EKG solution.  Through home-based or outpatient monitoring using our EKG solution, we can help screen patients’ cardiac health and empower doctors to make intelligent and real-time decisions on whether or not someone should be readmitted.

In a closed world, Spaulding Clinical must go to the hospitals individually. We have to convince them our solution improves outcomes and save them money. Then we have to convince them to allow us to work with their EHR vendor so that our solution is seamless with their existing infrastructure.

Once those stars have aligned, we then have to put an interface within the walls (network) of each of our customers.  This effort forces us to not only support our core competency (EKG management), but we also have to stay in lock step with the EHR vendor.

Why is open is the winning approach?

At the conference, Stanley Crane, Allscripts’ chief innovation officer, outlined four ways the health care industry wins when IT systems are open. I concur with all of them.

Spaulding Clinical wins because we can focus on our core competency.  With a solution like UAI, we can create a centralized and consistent interface across ALL Allscripts implementations. Instead of knocking on the doors of health care providers saying we can do something, we can show them we already have.

Hospitals win because they can provide more value and better outcomes while better managing the issue of readmissions.

Allscripts wins because they’re able to rapidly adapt to the changing landscape by empowering others and sharing the ball.

Most importantly, patients win because they are able to receive the cardiac care they deserve and that data is instantly available to their caregivers.

About Spaulding Clinical Research, LLC

Spaulding Clinical Research, LLC provides Clinical Pharmacology, Cardiac Core Lab clinical research services, and is a medical device manufacturer. Spaulding Clinical operates a 155-bed clinical pharmacology unit with 96-beds of telemetry in West Bend, Wisconsin, USA. The facility is paperless, with a Phase I Electronic Data Capture system and bi-directional interfaces to safety lab, bedside devices and telemetry. As a Phase I-IV Core ECG Laboratory provider, Spaulding Clinical offers the complete suite of equipment provisioning and electrocardiograph over-reading services with state-of-the-art technologies, including the proprietary Spaulding iQ Electrocardiograph, and expertly-cardiologists and project managers.

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