September 30, 2020
Cognosante’s experts in standards development are helping advance the goals of interoperability by ensuring that all the connections are in place for data to get from place to place with the correct contextual understanding. Our technologists are looking to the future and thinking about how advances in things like machine learning can help us gain value from the mountain of data we receive. Our privacy experts are ensuring that patients can be put in control of their health data in a way that protects their information.
In this final installment of our interoperability series, we address how collaboration among these individuals is critical to ensuring the successful implementation of standards into IT solutions.
Data Standards Provide a Common Language that Makes Information Flow Reliably
Standards are the rules by which data is recorded and used. For interoperability to work, data must come across all standards with the same contextual understanding. We use standards every time we use a banking app, pay a bill online, or perform many daily activities. Standards development organizations like HL7 are focused on bringing value to the application of standards in the healthcare space.
Most importantly, the standards reflect the data and ingress to payer business processes. When all trading partners are using the same standards or language, information flows reliably. This information can reduce costs and improve outcomes, which benefits patients, providers, and payers.
As a founding member of the DaVinci project, Cognosante is focused on compiling and organizing data in a meaningful way, and applying it to solve a particular problem or use case (for example, allowing a prior authorization request to be sent in real-time, with the records that need to be sent with it.) Making that happen requires coordination across multiple data standards for claims and clinical care, and across the public and private sectors.
Connectathons Provide a Framework for Collaboration Among Stakeholders
To successfully apply the standards to a business process, we need a team with a broad range of expertise to ensure that data ends up in the right place, and is used in the right context. Implementation meetings or “Connectathons” are where the rubber hits the road. In these highly collaborative meetings, participants determine whether we can really make connections between and among systems work. In essence, Connectathons allow all of the stakeholders of a business process to test out a process and see if it can become a reality.
Connectathons Bring Value to All Stakeholders
Although they are highly technical in nature, Connectathons build partnerships and bring diverse perspectives that benefit all stakeholders.
From a standards perspective: The DaVinci project brings together some of the brightest minds in healthcare. This collaboration is critical in creating framework for moving healthcare data. For example, FHIR, the data standard that is now considered “the” standard to follow, is not just a standard. It is a community of people with a common goal who come together to create and use it. Grahame Grieve, the major driving force behind FHIR’s inception and FHIR Project Director, has promoted and cultivated this mindset and consistently reminds us all that it is the community that moves the standard forward.
From a technologist’s perspective: We want to ensure that we are solving a problem in a way that is meaningful to the end users, and that we are not bringing technology to bear for technology’s sake. We can’t make assumptions that end users wouldn’t agree with. The collaboration – and the Agile process of understanding the problem, checking back in and getting meaningful feedback – is what makes solutions work.
From a business standpoint: Implementation meetings offer professional networking connections – with hospitals, providers, EHR and revenue cycle vendors, with the federal government, and with the international healthcare community at large – that will help organizations seek new ways of doing business and validate their solutions against others in use across the nation and world. All participants have the opportunity to influence technical content, drive innovation, and play a role in solutioning.
Collaboration in the COVID Era
Historically, connectathons have been organized as large, in-person working sessions. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many organizations like HL7 to shift to a virtual model. While the working model has changed, the benefits remain.
Because the virtual model is more cost-effective, attendance is higher than ever before. This has brought a diversity of experience, including from business owners who bring a very different perspective than developers.
Organizations like HL7 are using new technologies to manage the testing. They are creating “Track Preparation” sessions to ensure that participants have the right training and system access to proceed, and structuring the meetings in a way that accommodates the larger audience.
As connectathons continue to attract new attendees, organizers have gained valuable insight into gaps in access or documentation that need to be addressed for sessions to be more accessible to non-technical audiences. We expect that the business processes and documentation protocols will continue to evolve as participation increases.
Connectathons are More Important Than Ever
Connectathons are an important part of innovation. New solutions require proof of concept in order to be funded and implemented. At a time when in-person collaboration is restricted, structured opportunities like connectathons are critical to building partnerships, fostering exchange of diverse ideas, and providing the real-world testing that will bring interoperability forward.