Interoperability is not just for IT

Shweta Gupta

Healthcare has made some significant strides in the last decade, from the human genome project to precision medicine, public policy to improvements in patient care. And now more than ever, we all understand the contribution that technology plays for enabling these initiatives to take a flight and soar forward.

If medical science is a seed, technology is water for its germination. Adoption give its roots to hold ground.

I have been part of Health IT for nearly a decade. Although my work primarily focuses IT, it has definitely impacted my outlook on my health the health of my family. Witnessing our industry struggle with the basics of interoperability and clinical records management, it has become evident to me that we will lag on adoption of nascent technologies. Yet, I have hope for a healthier future for me my family – and the world at large. This hope is based on a dream, a dream planting the seeds of health and wellness earlier in life. I imagine every system that contributes to the growth and development of a child is synergized –at home, in daycare, doctor visits, the music class, soccer camp and onto school, individual therapies and the specialist visits. The system should include all caregivers the parents and relatives, nanny, kindergarten teacher, school, primary physician and the health specialist and soccer coach. Imagine seamless flow of information and communication to examine and understand growth spurts, behavior changes, strengths and weaknesses, the development of the right brain and the left, and to identify and monitor deficiencies and unknown conditions. And the resulting empowerment to make the best decisions. And the powerful ability to see future outcomes.

As a working mother of a four year old, one of my nagging fears is of something going wrong in the future and not being able to trace it and fix it as many of my busy days are a blur of activity.

There are days I don’t ask my son, what he had for lunch and didn’t adjust my dinner plan for him accordingly. I relied on the “Menu” paper sheet that I pick-up from his preschool. I was struggling to figure out why he was lost weight this past week. Was he stressed out? Was he overly-active? When I checked-in with this teacher, I learned there was a change in and he wasn’t eating his normal amount. Weight loss can be easily predicted, but I know there are many factors that shape his wellbeing that are going unnoticed and maybe, just maybe I am missing out the chance of identifying issues and addressing them at the nascency – and course correcting or treating them as early as possible. Imagine the power of seamless information flow across all the people and factors that contribute to a child’s growth, health and well-being. Imagine the power of that big data set for all children in the future.

There are so many similarities between this busy mom and our healthcare system – both crave information. Information that is precise and timely, predictive and actionable, healing and nurturing. And we are working towards the same goal healthy and nourished future.