If you’re running an HIE, you’re always hoping to see your participants step up their interoperability game. The thing is, few HIEs go the extra mile to make it happen, in many cases because they just don’t have the resources to tackle the problem.
Given this fact, I was interested to see the recent announcement by a Michigan HIE which is taking a far more hands-on approach to helping participants develop better interoperability capabilities.
Michigan Health Information Network Shared Services (MiHIN) is launching a new not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting research on national interoperability.
MiHIN is Michigan’s state-designated entity for sharing electronic health information statewide. It’s a non-profit, public-private collaboration whose participants include the State of Michigan, other state HIEs, health systems, providers, health plans, pharmacies and the Governor’s Health Information Technology Commission.
MiHIN’s new Interoperability Institute, meanwhile, is designed to take data sharing compatibility to the next level. Unlike its peers, MiHIN offers participants a collaborative work environment where participants can work together on fostering national interoperability. The work will focus on product solutions such as Interoperability Land, its on-demand digital collaboration and interoperability testing platform.
Interoperability Land is a simulated healthcare ecosystem letting organizations learn, build and test healthcare applications. By using this system, users gain access to realistic, clinically relevant synthetic patient data. The platform was piloted earlier this year and used at events where developers, vendors and experts explore, develop and test interoperable solutions.
Particularly given the next-gen requirements coming down the pike from CMS and ONC, I was glad to see MiHIN set out to help varied organizations get stone-cold serious about interoperability. I also liked learning that Interoperability Land is using synthetic data, which sidesteps many uncomfortable questions I still have about using other “live” patient data.
On the other hand, though, localized efforts like MiHIN’s might well hit some impregnable walls fairly soon. As I noted in an earlier article, some researchers feel that regional HIEs are unlikely to work together effectively enough to foster national interoperability. They also note that while individual HIEs are most effective using specialized tools and processes for exchange data, few regional HIEs have such tools in place.
If those researchers are right, a national HIE dishing out interoperable data isn’t like to emerge until the federal government gets involved. They support the idea of developing a national public HIE available to all US providers. Such an HIE would spare local communities the cost of building out a local version. The national HIE could also give participants access to best-of-breed tools.
Bottom line, in the absence of such a solution, it’s good to see MiHIN kicking off a program to support interoperability among its participants. If nothing else, in the absence of a national HIE, it’s certainly a reasonable project to pursue for the time being.