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Interoperability: Connected Health Technology

If you came to Glendale Tech Week this year, you probably remember the significant technological emphasis Dr. Momjian included in his lecture. One of the key concepts Dr. Momjian focused on was the interoperability of big health data, and what a streamlined and centralized data collection could mean for your health outcomes in the future.

What is ‘Interoperability’?

A new report by the President’s Cancer Panel shows that interoperability can dramatically transform cancer care and outcomes. So, what is ‘interoperability’ anyway, and what does it mean for everyday patients in our communities?

Interoperability refers to connected health technologies that serve to centralize and de-compartmentalize a wide set of medical and health data. This can mean making sure that if you have an emergency in a different state or country your medical records are easily accessible; or, it could mean crunching large data sets to understand how your particular affliction in other similar people behaved.

By compressing the medical and health data of our populations into an easily accessible (but secure) data repository, we can potentially vastly streamline the care process and improve both outcomes and patient satisfaction. Doctors, too, will appreciate the ability to consolidate a patient’s medical history into one centralized location so that they do not need to track down disparate records or far-off specialists in order to quickly assess a patient’s condition.

What Could A Future With Interoperability Look Like?

Sound too good to be true? Interoperability may be coming sooner than we think. In some ways, the health care infrastructure is slowly introducing aspects of connected health technologies; but, the industry is notoriously slow to change, and even the recent study by the President’s Cancer Panel admitted that we do not yet quite have the technology to implement interoperability on the scale it needs to be effective.

However, the study also strongly noted the incredible potential these technologies can have in the future. In particular, they noted how interoperability might be a key weapon for doctors in the fight against cancer, as our oncology treatment infrastructure is about to get bombarded by an aging baby boomer population.

These boomers can utilize interoperability by becoming the first pool of patients to really have their symptoms, diagnoses, and outcomes tracked and analyzed by connected health technologies. In doing so, they will help each other as both human and machine learning systems ascertain the best possible treatment plans for each individual.

Dr. Momjian’s Take

Each week, Urgent 9 founder Dr. Manuel Momjian will personally weigh in on the topics covered by the blog.

momjianInteroperability is a buzz word in the healthcare policy arena. It is a hypothetical world where all patients’ records are data enriched and interconnected. Imagine being able to access all your medical records with a simple keystroke, similar to doing a Google search. Imagine analyzing the complex relationship of artificial sweeteners to cancer incidence within minutes, just by typing in a simple question. Interoperability will unlock the potential of big medical data, revolutionizing the process of healthcare research It sounds really sexy–and in reality, it has enormous potential to take our medical knowledge to a whole new level.

The only problem is that interoperability has become a bad word in doctors’ circles. Poorly thought out programs, such as ‘meaningful use’, have made collecting the best data points more important than the interoperability of the systems. Most doctors are fed up with collecting data that has nothing to do with taking care of sick patients. I believe the federal government is correct to pursue interoperability of medical records, but I disagree with the idea of training doctors to collect data points solely for the sake of richer data. I believe that if you connect the systems, the data will come naturally.

– Dr. Manuel Momjian, Urgent 9 Founder

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