Collaborating with HIT Vendors to Improve Interoperability

People often ask me, why would ICA create a free collaborative environment in which other HIT vendors can practice and test their interoperability capabilities?  The answer is easier than it might first appear – we want to make a difference in healthcare.

Imagine yourself preparing to go to a foreign country for the rest of your life without the ability to communicate in its native language.  Now imagine that someone gives you a book on the language as the only means of preparing for your trip.  You sit in your room day after day looking at words that make little sense to you. Because you aren’t able to speak the words to someone who knows the language, you get no feedback on your progress until you land in the new country.  What do you think your success rate will be to find housing, get something to eat, go to work or attain the other requirements of survival in the short run?

This is the same type of experience HIT vendors are going through now.  They have a set of standards and they assume that they are interpreting them correctly – but they only know if they’re right when it comes time to interact with another HIT vendor in an live environment with one of their customers.  The ICA Extreme Testing Center (ICAetc) is a place where HIT vendors can practice their interoperability skills without limits on the scenario, the type of data being transferred, or with which other vendors are involved in the practice.  It is open to all vendors (yes – even our competitors) because we hear that a lot of HIT vendors are IHE compliant but have trouble implementing IHE in the field.  ICAetc allows these vendors to exchange real data with each other, figure out how they are going to consume the data exchanged, and build better products that work within the framework of care delivery.  We at ICA believe we know how to create interoperable systems that improve healthcare and we are willing to put that knowledge to the test by offering an open testing ground.

The results of this kind of testing bring the entire community of vendors’ game up a notch.  It reduces implementation times for our mutual clients and it makes the overall healthcare delivery system better in the process.  We firmly believe that no one vendor can provide the necessary HIT infrastructure for the entire healthcare marketplace – not now, not in the future.  Every healthcare information technology company must work together if a truly interoperable world within healthcare can exist to deliver higher quality of care to more patients at a reduced cost.

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