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CloudView blog

Ideas and insights to help health care providers stay informed and profitable in today's challenging health care environment.

Open Collaboration, Open Platforms: The Keys to Interoperability

by Kyle Armbrester, VP of Business Development

The past year has been an exciting one here at athenahealth as we discover and engage with new companies, day in and day out, at our offices and on the road.

What we've seen has been thrilling, to say the least, and we believe these are just the early ripples of the innovation surge in health care. From the epilepsy patient monitoring application just built from proof-of-concept during a 10-day hack-a-thon at MIT, to the mobile self-check-in tablet solution demoed at mHealth 2012 in Washington, D.C., teams of entrepreneurs, clinicians, designers and developers are banding together to solve the myriad woes plaguing health care. One app at a time.

This begs the question: How do we connect and interoperate with all of these upcoming innovative solutions?

It’s promising to see genuine, positive disruption in the industry, and we urge innovators to continue pushing the limits despite the various speed bumps and headwinds they may face from health care regulation or reimbursement. We envision a world where health care has the same data transparency and seamless flow of information that's already present in other industries. A world where a chronic patient can go from hospital to practice to specialty clinic to pharmacy, and use remote monitoring systems and devices at home and on-the-go, with all relevant data shared, compiled and updated seamlessly. We imagine a health care industry that lets providers "shop," browsing an iTunes-like store of health care applications and services enabling them to provide higher quality patient care more efficiently.

Just like the birth of the prosumer(1) in other industries, we are not too far away from seeing the "Pro-patient," if you will, within health care, blurring the lines between provider and patient. As consumers become more involved in the control of their own health by way of technology—able to access, update, share and manage their health-related data easily and often—providers will need to become equally equipped to address patients' rising needs and demands.

To shape this interoperable world, we need to break down the closed, proprietary models, with their traditional, monolithic systems sitting on the back-end forming fragmented data silos of information. We need open platforms in health care. The age of the open platform has already arrived and has completely transformed entire industries and lifestyles. Visionary companies like Amazon and Apple realized the long-term value of open collaboration and ecosystems; by following their lead, we in health care need to embrace the technologies we have that can unleash seamless connectivity across platforms, applications and devices.

Health systems (EHRs, PHRs, etc.) need to unleash the power that lies beyond the data repository and foster the clinical integration that is so critical for the various innovative, disruptive solutions currently being developed, whose success hinges on seamless integration into the physician workflow.

At athenahealth, we are doing exactly this through our More Disruption Please program. Harnessing the power of the cloud, we are transforming into an open platform, through which we are partnering and collaborating with exciting, new companies who share our vision of disrupting the status quo and making health care work as it should. Together, we can create a powerful health IT ecosystem that fosters a new breed of technology-enabled service companies and disruptive, new business models, all bending the innovation curve within health care.

In preparation for HIMSS13 and as part of the second HIMSS Blog Carnival, HIMSS recently invited members of the health IT blog community to pen new, original posts that share their opinions on key topic areas that will be discussed at HIMSS13 including Meaningful Use, ICD-10, the Affordable Care Act, Interoperability, Clinical and Business Intelligence, and Mobile Health.

(1)Prosumer: the blurring/merging of producer and consumer, with the idea that consumers are becoming increasingly involved in the production of the goods and services they consume.

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Cloudview Blog

Ideas, insights and analysis to help physicians, medical groups and health systems stay informed and profitable in today's challenging health environment.

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