Q&A: Interoperability and COVID-19, Part 2

Dr. Anil Jain describes how the pandemic’s disruption may affect the trajectory of sharing health information and considerations for those healthcare providers looking to invest.

By | 1 minute read | June 24, 2020

Editor’s note: Many healthcare providers, health plans and employers have been reassessing their interoperability efforts, as they respond to the overwhelming demands of COVID-19.  We explored these topics with Anil Jain, MD, FACP, VP & Chief Health Information Officer at IBM Watson Health, and appointed by Congress to the Federal Health IT Advisory Committee established by the 21st Century Cures Act. In this two-part blog series, he answers questions about 1) how the pandemic intersects with interoperability, and 2) how this disruption may affect the trajectory of interoperability efforts.

Q. How might COVID-19 affect the path forward for interoperability? What does the future look like?

Dr. Jain: Interoperability is not about just one person or one organization – the only way it works with a sustained benefit is if every stakeholder comes along for the journey and participates in the process, even if incremental. This is even more critical in a public health crisis, when one’s health can impact another’s so profoundly, and the need for standards and ability to share information efficiently is critical to our ability to vigorously respond to this pandemic. And it’s clear that we’re all in this together.

Q. What advice do you have for companies that decide to invest in interoperability?

Dr. Jain: First, I’d say interoperability is about more than just buying technology and services. There are a lot of solutions to interoperability that enable a technical requirement. But success with interoperability will depend on a much broader and deeper set of socio-technical capabilities. Healthcare providers and healthcare payers should be making investments that will generate benefits for years to come in technology, services and implementation.

For example, investing in open, standards-based products will likely deliver more opportunities for efficient integration than proprietary solutions allowing groups to focus on other meaningful projects. Seeking options that are designed with security and trust is a top priority. Finding those end-to-end solutions that scale with the organization’s needs – these are all critical decision points for interoperability investments.

Read Interoperability and COVID-19, Part 1

Learn more from Anil Jain, MD, FACP, about how IBM is supporting health and human services during COVID-19

Recover and reset with advice from IBM Watson Health consulting services