Cerner/Siemens and Blue Shield/Blue Cross: What Happens Next?

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The industry is buzzing over the news that Cerner is buying the health information technology business unit of Siemens. The Siemens acquisition is the most recent high-profile example of consolidation that is taking place in all sectors of healthcare.

The consolidation trend is not new, of course. Providers reacted first, by aligning as Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and clinical integration (CI) networks during the past five years. Then the passing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) accelerated the need for collaboration, forcing providers to acquire additional acute care and post-acute care facilities as well as physicians’ offices. This consolidation trend was the first to expose the obvious lack of interoperability amongst vendors.

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CommonWell Health Alliance – Big Stride or Baby Steps?

baby-steps1You’ve all heard my thoughts on mobility as the critical lynchpin for healthcare to achieve true clinical transformation. And, that one of the longest standing and most stubborn barriers to mobility is the lack of true interoperability across systems and devices from multiple vendors in any health system.

So during HIMSS13 back in March, I was interested to hear that some EMR vendors were joining together in the CommonWell Health Alliance to integrate their systems. It was encouraging to see these EMR vendors talk about opening up and becoming more compatible with each other – something that health systems have demanded, but that vendors’ proprietary attitudes and competition for market share have prevented. Like most of the industry, I’ve been curious to see how the Alliance would unfold and if the outcome could be experienced immediately since healthcare organizations cannot afford to wait. The need for action is NOW. Continue reading

Are We There Yet?…Almost

Road_14The interoperability challenge has plagued hospitals and health systems for longer than any of us care to admit. The topic still elicits eye-rolls and cringes from everyone from health care reporters to CIOs – and who can blame them? The industry has largely over-promised and under-delivered when it comes to vendors “playing nice in the sandbox,” integrating systems and making data across the continuum available in a simple and cost-effective way. Continue reading