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Healthcare Interoperability Is a Team Sport

Healthcare Interoperability Is a Team Sport

By Courtney Kirkham

Feb 22, 2017

Updated Nov 17, 2023

5 min read


Interoperability – or the ability of computer systems or software to exchange and make use of information – is always a hot topic in the healthcare industry. When done right, interoperability makes healthcare more connected, and it achieves the universal objective to make better patient care easier to provide. The challenge is it requires cooperation and coordination between health systems, technology companies, caregivers, and patients. In this way tech and operational interoperability in healthcare can be viewed as a team sport – only when we understand our roles and work together can we “win.”

We each have our role

In a team sport, each player is tasked with a specific role to fulfill such as playing defense, offense, center, etc. The players work to develop their individual skills in that role in order to provide the most value to their team. This specialized system works the same in healthcare. Healthcare technology companies specialize in developing life-saving solutions for health systems. Providers perfect their knowledge and skills through intensive education programs and continuous training. Healthcare administrations work to further refine processes and build efficiencies.

Patients are not passive fans watching from the sidelines either. They are active participants in their care, serving as subject matter experts for their own health. Their engagement spans more than just a one-time event. A dedicated sports fan comes early to tailgate, is focused during the game, and analyzes the plays long after he or she goes home. Likewise, patients can and should choose to engage before, during, and after their point-of-care.

We work together to make progress

Once skills are refined, athletes support their team members by working together; team work is what drives the team to a win. In healthcare, team work should be given the same priority level. Organizations (and the tech they develop or support) strive for interoperability, but at times competition overpowers the effort to work together. This challenge is one of the biggest deterrents for tech and operational interoperability in healthcare.

The “win” we are all striving for in healthcare is improved patient care and outcomes. This common goal is a uniting force; when it’s reinforced it can work to overcome the barriers blocking interoperability. We can take steps to break down barriers and promote team work in healthcare by:

  • Reinforcing our common “win” – improved patient care
  • Aligning priorities between healthcare tech developers and health systems
  • Incorporating patients and caregivers in the design process
  • Being willing to contribute the financial investment needed for better patient care
  • Promoting transparency and building trust between all healthcare stakeholders

Together, we depend on each other’s expertise in order to achieve true tech and operational interoperability. In our uniqueness and through collaboration we provide the most value.