Rhapsody Health Solutions Team

7 Habits to Start Now for Your Healthcare Interoperability Initiatives

May 10, 2010

Stephen Covey is a giant among thought leaders in the business world and has facilitated a personal growth approach for many leaders and families around the world. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People have withstood the test of time, remaining a solid guide for many.

For healthcare organizations, Covey’s 7 Habits can serve as a clear pathway in tackling the new challenges of healthcare interoperability initiatives. The connected healthcare challenge is dramatically intensifying with the HITECH law and Meaningful Use and Healthcare Standards regulations moving toward final approval.

Staying in the comfort zone of your organization’s four walls is no longer realistic. Interfacing healthcare applications will still be a necessity, but we are now being called on to get out of our comfort zone and connect to a complete healthcare community across city, regional, state, and national boundaries. Illustrated below is the 7 Habits model, with a subtle change. Rather than a Private Victory and Public Victory in moving from Dependence to Interdependence, it is a Hospital Victory – or put in your specific perspective – moving to a Community Victory.

In other words, healthcare providers need to not only integrate their various internal applications, but extend their reach outside the four walls and connect with a healthcare community. This may come in the form of simple patient results distribution or connecting with a Health Information Exchange (HIE). This is the movement occurring today within health IT – enabling a move from dependent to independent to interdependent patient data exchanges.

Today, efficiency and streamlined patient data flow is a necessity. This is the first level victory for healthcare providers. It is moving from dependence to independence. Enabling this move offers providers choices, such as deciding between point-to-point interfaces or an interface engine.

The central difference between these two choices is that one approach carries with it application vendor dependence. In point-to-point interfaces, any change to an interface has to be made by the specific application’s vendor. Being unable to “change” easily, quickly, or cost-effectively creates a level of dependence and will not enable a healthcare provider to move to Interdependence.

In contrast, an interface engine approach facilitates a productive, stable move to the Independent state while enabling a further step towards Interdependence. With this approach, changes are made more easily, quickly and cost-effectively within your organization, while ensuring a more capable, effective management of the integrated environment.

An interface engine in the middle delivers an inflection point which to enables a move to a more community-based, interoperable model. It starts Interdependence by offering a platform with which to add more modern communication capabilities or other extensions, all to move to a higher level of patient data exchange.

As with most initiatives though, it is not just the technology. Working through the internal and external “politics” and the workflow design or re-design efforts takes time, talent, and patience. Getting the right technology to enable the right workflows with the right people orchestrating the implementation and management is critical. Another indispensable element is guiding physicians, clinicians, patients, and many others to use the systems. The 7 Habits deliver a valuable framework to work through each of these elements in a successful manner.

With all the new things happening in healthcare, it may be essential to relate back to core elements. Covey’s 7 Habits provides that guide for leading the transition to effective healthcare interdependence.

You also may want to read again the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

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