Monthly Archive for April, 2009

Liberate the Data!

Peter Neupert’s post Tear Down the Walls and Liberate the Data is worth reading. There are some Microsoft-centric comments, but a number of the linked articles are good and the overall message is correct (IMO anyway).

I might have tried to find a better analogy than ‘tear down this wall’, but that’s because I was never a Ronald Reagan fan.  Nevertheless, this gets across the primary point:

What’s of paramount importance is liberating the data and making it available for re-use in different contexts.

Two major ‘walls’ stand in the way of this:

  1. “it’s-my-data”
  2. “waiting-for-the-right-standards-set-by-government”

Both exist because of the perceived competitive advantages they provide to organizations and vendors.

Interoperability of data, or enabling data to become “liquid” would allow it to flow easily from system to system. These challenges are the same ones addressed by Adam Bosworth that I discussed in Dreaming of Flexible, Simple, Sloppy, Tolerant in Healthcare IT.

The technical issues are complicated, but I also believe that they not the primary reason that prevent  health IT systems from inter operating.  As Peter suggests, it would be good for HiTech dollars to be used to break down some of the more difficult barriers that prevent data liquidity.

The “proven model[s] for extracting and transforming data” do exist and there is no excuse not to use them.

After thinking about it some more, a more cautionary analogy may be The Exodus — Mosses leading the Israelites out of the Land of Egypt (“let my data go!”).  1) It took an act of God to part the Red Sea, and 2) after their dramatic escape they roamed the desert for 40 years. Let’s hope that health IT interoperability does not need devine intervention or suffer the same fate.



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