CEO travels globe for healthcare IT

April 15, 2013 in Medical Technology

Among America’s dichotomies:  The country is widely-viewed as a leader in IT, yet the healthcare industry is notoriously perceived as lagging others in tech adoption. But is it really? To find out, Healthcare IT News Contributing  Editor Tom Sullivan spoke with David Lareau, who as CEO of health IT vendor Medicomp Systems, travels the globe and meets with healthcare customers in other nations.

[See also: Medicomp takes MEDCIN global.]

Q: What is the health IT landscape in other countries like right now?

A: We’re involved in Malaysia and it has the closest thing to what I’d call the Balkanized healthcare system where every enterprise is its own country with its own clinical data definitions. What is it about every one of our hospitals that makes them think they are such a unique and exciting experience that they need to define their own clinical data? And when I see that it drives me crazy, but when you go to other countries, like Malaysia where there are more chains of hospitals, each one reinvents this stuff time and time again. Remember a few years ago when the big, big thing in our industry everybody was talking about was interoperability?

Q: Not that it’s changed all that much…

A: What happened with that? I guess we’re done because they’re all talking about Big Data. Two years ago it was data analytics. We couldn’t get interoperability working because of all these Balkanized systems so now we’re going to do analytics. Oops that didn’t work and now we’re going to use Big Data to evaluate information and pull some out so maybe we can be interoperable by swapping algorithms that sort all of this big data. It’s enough to give me a headache.

Q: Interoperability is still a big discussion point here in America, but have other countries made progress on interoperability or health information exchange?

A: No. Not yet. Nobody’s been able to figure out how to get large enterprises to agree that they are not special one-off cases that need to have their own data structures. Just think if every bank decided it was going to account for your money their own way. And healthcare is more complicated than banking, probably. For that reason, it screams out more for some kind of commonly agreed upon methods, structures, and so forth. The Affordable Care Act moves in that direction by asking people to report data and agree to use best practices or evidence-based medicine and providing incentives to do it and later disincentives to not do it. But everybody is still making this up as they go along. In Singapore they’re trying to standardize that. They’re trying.

One of the advantages nations that are not as developed as the U.S. have is that they may be able to go to Web-based, cloud  systems that share information structures and data more readily than here in the U.S. where there’s an awful lot of concrete poured around MUMPs and other old technologies. If I want to put a highway in, starting from scratch is almost easier than ripping up an existing highway and putting a new one in over it. You know what I mean?

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