Although well hidden in the back of the basement, the interoperability showcase at HIMSS 2012 was a well attended space. And that, my friends, saved the vendors adjacent to that location. I’m not sure anyone would have bothered to find that obscure location without a specific reason to be there. Over the past three years that we’ve been a part of the interoperability showcase, we’ve seen a much more collaborative approach, a growth in participation, and an atmosphere that harbored follow-up and continuation of the efforts beyond the showcase itself.
More and more vendors have approached us about working together to improve the interoperability needs in the field with their clients after the show. In the past, vendors had a prototype of their software at the interoperability showcase to prove that they “could” meet the standards and play nice with other vendors. However, in reality the software deployed in the field was months if not years away from being production ready. As clients came to the showcase and saw their vendors exchanging data with others, it only increased their frustration when they returned to their offices and found that their ability to exchange data was several upgrades away. Not only was the timeframe frustrating but the expense of the upgrades was even more insulting.
So people are increasingly coming to view HIMSS Interoperability Showcase and Connectathon as a must-do to test interoperability, a fabricated world, a dry run where engineers and companies have a consequence-free opportunity to test what they’ve got before entering the real world where dollars and reputations are on the line. These important venues give vendors the opportunity to overcome obstacles to the sharing and exchange of patient data which will move them toward achieving meaningful use ultimately changing the nature of patient care.
And to that end, similar to the HIMSS Showcase, ICA has developed ICA Extreme Testing Center, or ICAetc, to provide an ongoing, year-round forum to help vendors achieve sustainable interoperability, save money, and perhaps face, as they lumber forward toward the difficult goals of seamlessly facilitating the sharing of critical patient data. Vendor partners are already participating and more are lining up. ICAetc is a risk-free environment where EMRs can link to EMRs, work out the bugs, determine limits and horizons, gain a sense of the costs and timing of installing interoperability solution suites.
The results are already impressive. The crowds are gathering. And more are at the door. HIMSS Interoperability Showcase and Connectathon have pointed out the path and hopefully we’ve picked up the scythe and with the help of our industry partners are clearing that path in ways not done before and that will realize better care for all.