Today I heard a session today at the National IT Forum at Harvard entitled “Business-Government Interactions to Support a Platform”.
I felt like I was Alice in Wonderland. Behind me sat two of the top leaders of the Open Source CONNECT project. Which is, frankly, the single largest contribution to Health IT interoperability to come from the Federal Government… ever. Even now, that project will ensure that there will be a National Health Information Network that will create local exchanges that will allow the transfer of health information about individuals from coast to coast. Or at least this is so likely to happen, that other outcomes would be so random that they cannot be planned for in any case. Yet, the CONNECT project was hardly mentioned one time during the session about “What we want from the Government”.
The session waxed long on what to expect from the Government, what the Government should do and should not do. Lots of talking about laws and rules and Google. How should we do health information exchange? Some of it was pretty interesting, but basically it was the wrong conversation.
The right conversation starts with this: we can assume that CONNECT -will- unify the health information transfer in the US. It will serve as the basis for the core NHIN and regional networks will have the option of implementing it. That means that CONNECT sets the bar for health exchange. Software must be as good as CONNECT to be considered for a local Health Information Exchange, otherwise, why not use CONNECT?
So -given- that the US government will (sooner or later) solve the problem of health information exchange using CONNECT, the question is how we as platform developers will -leverage- CONNECT to make new and improved patient and clinician-facing tools.
While the first talk was better, and the contacts I have already made here are invaluable, so far there is too much fluff and not enough on the dirty details required to make a platform. I really wish Ben Adida could have made it, because as it stands I feel somewhat ungrounded. The conversation should really have been “what does CONNECT mean for us?” and instead it was just circular nonsense. I really want to ask after almost everyone finishes talking “so… you will therefore code what… exactly?”
For this post I want to make it clear. CONNECT is not perfect, they have warts both as a codebase and as a project. But they are rapidly fixing themselves, and they will change everything. This seems so obvious to me… and yet apparently not everyone gets this.