3 lessons banking can teach healthcare about interoperability

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The financial industry has solved several core interoperability issues that continue to elude the healthcare industry, which can therefore learn quite a bit about handling patient data from banking, according to John Glaser, PhD, former CIO of Partners HealthCare.

Dr. Glaser, now senior vice president of population health at Cerner, outlined three lessons about interoperability that should be carried over from banking to healthcare in an article for the Harvard Business Review.

1. "Limited interoperability can address a broad range of needs": Data must be shared between far more parties and for many more purposes in healthcare than in finance, but this daunting task can be addressed by starting small, with single-purpose solutions that, for example, alert a patient's care team upon receipt of any health service from any provider, anywhere in the world.

2. "Interoperability will only succeed when it makes business sense for the participants": Under the fee-for-service model, it makes more financial sense for a provider to closely guard its patients' data, but as providers increasingly transition to a value-based care approach, they will all benefit from access to other providers' data.

3. "Interoperability must be driven by industrywide efforts": Just as the banking industry has the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications to facilitate the movement of customers' money between more than 11,000 financial institutions, so too does healthcare need a centralized body to establish, monitor and enforce interoperability standards.

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