Interoperability versus Usability in Best of Breed or All-in-One HIS Systems

In a number of my online conversations we’ve been having really in depth discussions about the idea of whether it’s better for a hospital HIS system is better as an All-In-One system or whether Best of Breed healthcare IT systems are better. Much of this discussion has been sparked from posts done on my Hospital EMR and EHR blog. So, if you’re in the hospital space and are not following that site, you should. You can even sign up for the Hospital EMR and EHR list if you’d like. Anne Zieger writes most of the content there and she doesn’t mince words.

In all of these discussions, something became really clear to me:

The best reason to use Best of Breed healthcare IT systems is for usability.

The best reason to use an All-in-One system is for interoperability.

Some people may see this as too simplistic, but I loved a quote I read recently that said you don’t truly understand something until you can describe it in a simple form. I actually heard Bill Belichick do this talking about what he looks for in receivers for his Football team (Anyone excited for Super Bowl Sunday?). He said he likes a receiver that can Get Open and Catches the Ball. Seems far too simplistic, but it’s so simplistic it’s genius.

I think the same could be said for evaluating hospital IT systems:

The thing I like most in a healthcare IT system is one that’s Usable and Integrates Well.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • RE

    “The best reason to use Best of Breed healthcare IT systems is for usability.

    The best reason to use an All-in-One system is for interoperability.”

    Wouldn’t the opposite likely be true? (If there is indeed a difference?)

    BoB have to interoperate with each other, but have different, potentially inconsistent, UIs. And they’re more likely to have standard data interfaces and support standard formats.

    In contrast, AiO have a consistent UI across functions but often eschew interoperation with external systems.

    At least that what I’ve heard others argue. Not sure one way or the other myself.


  • Chuck,
    That’s an interesting look at it. Although, I guess I’d just argue that how much does consistent UI matter between Radiology and the ED? Probably not all that important. How much value could interoperability between those departments matter? A whole lot. So, it can be argued the other way, but with different outcomes.

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