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I recently started a new job as a senior advisor at InterSystems. As a remote employee, I’ve been looking for ways to maximize my time at the Cambridge, Mass., headquarters office, and I just had the first of what will likely be many “crossover” weekends – where I bookend a weekend with two consecutive work weeks in Cambridge.

traveling-bag-imageI opted to take the train from Boston to Maine to stay with family for the weekend. As I made my way to North Station, I ambled by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), where I worked some years back in the emergency department. I started to think about all the patients, a nephew being one, who seek specialist care at MGH or other fine medical institutions in Boston, but then make their way back to Maine or New Hampshire where they might live.

Even though great strides have been made

We’re all familiar with the concept of community or “herd” immunity. If a high proportion of a population are immunized against a communicable disease, the opportunity for the disease to spread is severely limited. The community is effectively immune, even if not every individual is.

standoutfromherdIf only it worked that way with electronic medical record (EMR) systems. Even if a high proportion of clinicians adopt an EMR, the technology can fail to deliver its objectives if a small but significant number of clinicians sometimes opt out. Any missing patient information or workflows that cannot be completed electronically hamper all EMR users. If the immunization analogy holds true, then non-adoption of the EMR can inoculate the system against success.

Not surprisingly, many of our EMR customers around the world go

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-11-56-36-amHospitals have steadily increased their reliance on point-of-care testing (PoCT) devices to help manage patient care. This is certainly understandable; every healthcare organization is (or ought to be) focused on delivering the right care, at the right time, to increase quality and reduce costs. Gathering timely information about patients as close to the bedside as possible dramatically increases efficiency and enables rapid responsiveness, with measurable improvements in the quality of care delivered.

These improvements depend on ensuring the information produced by PoCT devices makes its way into the medical record as quickly and efficiently as possible. And not just any information, but the right information. Optimally, PoCT devices should be interfaced correctly to

screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-2-16-35-pmWhen you spend your work life around health IT, every healthcare encounter becomes an opportunity for field research. I find myself studying EHR adoption levels and implementation models during visits to my physicians, or integration shortcomings during hospitalizations, or the state of information exchange when referred for testing.

So when an ill-fated dog walk landed me in the emergency room with a knee injury, I found myself once again in the role of observer.

I’d been treated in this facility several years before, dutifully pre-registering and completing a full medical history. I knew quite well that my record was in the EHR (not one based on InterSystems technology) and confidently handed over my ID and insurance card to the registration clerk.


It was a fitting metaphor: A group of healthcare providers, health IT vendors, interoperability experts, and our KLAS hosts were on a tram ride up and down the mountain at Snowbird, where we had gathered for the second KLAS Cornerstone Summit on interoperability measurement.

Was I the only one who saw the link between the cable car and EHR interoperability – a bidirectional, point-to-point connection? Thankfully, the journey was smooth and without incident, unlike that of a recent group of cable car riders on Mont Blanc, and unlike the information exchange frustrations of many U.S. healthcare providers.