Joe DeSantis, vice president of HealthShare Platforms, is responsible for all aspects of the InterSystems HealthShare informatics platform, including software development, product marketing and business development. As former vice president of research & development at Liant Software Corporation, he was in charge of product vision, architecture and development of object-oriented development tools. DeSantis also co-founded Oakland Group, Inc., where he served as vice president of research & development and oversaw the architecture, design and development of the C-scape Interface Management System.

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Connecting care around the world: Moving from vision to reality

You work with healthcare systems around the world. Are you seeing more similarities or di fferences these days?
Definitely more similarities. In fact, even though payment and care delivery models di ffer from country to country, many of the basic challenges are the same – and they all require information sharing! So we work at multiple levels of those health systems, in partnership with our customers, to help address those problems.

For example, regional health systems have to become more collaborative if they are going to deal with chronic conditions effectively. Information and services have to be provided across and beyond traditional organizational and disciplinary boundaries in a seamless fashion. So we develop products and technology for real and meaningful interoperability between clinical systems across the entire continuum of care.

Do you have any other examples?
Sure. Whether you’re a provider or payer, caring for patients within healthcare organizations has become a team sport on a constantly changing playing field. Clinicians of all types must not only work effectively as individuals, but also as part of coordinated teams. That requires reliable software that can cope with ongoing change. So InterSystems has created a high performance data platform that gives real-time, concurrent access to critical healthcare data. We use the platform to build our own global EHR and information sharing products, and our network of partners has used it to create the world’s leading and best clinical solutions.

And as the world moves towards population-based health, it is important to remember that people will always be at the center of healthcare. So we make it a priority to make it possible for all individuals to see the information relevant to them in a robust, scalable, and secure fashion, whether they are clinicians, patients, or family members.

That’s a tremendous vision, but sometimes reality doesn’t live up to hype. How is shared health information actually making a difference?
You are right in some ways – even the most connected communities have a long way to go yet. But there are creative care organizations all around us, each bringing to life parts of that larger vision. Take HealthFirst, a regional, not-for-profit health plan in the New York City area, owned by a consortium of healthcare providers. They are enhancing collaboration across their entire care network, beginning with medication management and gaps in care. To do this, they’ve deployed an information exchange and clinical portal that includes information about general practice, acute, community, mental health and social care.

Or look at Coordinate My Care (CMC), which is a clinical service for end-of-life care, hosted by The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in London. They help patients and family members think through and document their wishes for end-of-life care, and then share those plans with urgent care providers such as ambulance services. By automating this information sharing, they are helping patients across the London region to achieve their goals for end-of-life care.

In another part of the world, the Chilean Regional Health Services is leap-frogging over traditional health IT approaches. Primary care and hospital providers from two regional health services, Talcahuano and Concepción, are piloting shared access to records across EHRs and geographic regions to create a connected health community, reduce duplicative testing, decrease service times, improve patient safety and reduce costs.

In all three cases, we see how connections make a difference to real people.

What is your next big challenge?
Frankly, it goes back to your earlier question. We need to help more organizations move from concept to demonstrated reality. So we will be expanding the boundaries of what we do, and helping our customers expand the boundaries of what they do.