Recapturing the Best Part of Best-of-Breed
By Meg Aranow
Meg Aranow is CEO of Edaris Health of Boston, MA.
Early on in HIT, departmental systems were the only computer-based clinical and business solutions we had. Often built and sold by teams that came directly out of the operational areas and bringing experiential credibility, these solutions spoke the language of the department leaders who were making the purchasing selections. The more relatable they were, the more significant their market share.
Later, with reputations solidified, these vendors began to capitalize by broadening their horizons into related areas, offering suites of applications to handle adjacent functions, such as all labs sections, not just blood labs, or all finance departments, not just AP/AR.
Then came the perfect storm that really engaged us all in the allure of the enterprise systems. First, computerization became the expected standard and big-budget centralized IT departments took root. Second, the market responded with R&D money and new investment capital. Third, healthcare costs and patient safety became everyday news and the idea of health consumerism grew. As timely, accurate shared data seemed the holy grail for both quality and expense control, the lure of single fully integrated systems became irresistible.
The decisions seemed easier 10 years ago. That was when the primary definition of an enterprise was its physical boundaries. There wasn’t much talk about IDNs and integrating freestanding surgery centers, urgent cares, or SNFs.
Now, even as we seek to integrate the data that ensures quality, safety, and expense control within the walls of our institution, we are simultaneously pushing care outside the walls to be handled in places that have less overhead and are easier for patients to navigate. There’s a tightrope to walk. We can’t trample on the very workflows that have created those higher margins and faster throughput at the lower-cost locations. If we make them behave as the rest of the enterprise does, we may lose the very things that made them attractive business assets and popular care destinations for patients in the first place.
As interoperability standards have become de rigor, there are options of where to draw the perimeter of the enterprise system and where to allow – or even encourage – deep support of site-specific workflows without compromise. That is, workflow support as once delivered by narrowly-focused departmental systems.
Customized workflow support is the new best-of-breed. With mature interoperability standards in place, we do not have to sacrifice tailored, intuitive workflow support for the sake of integrated data, decision support, and analytics. There is no reason not to have it all.