Even fierce competitors in the marketplace will work together if it
benefits both parties. I know from my telecommunications background that
Verizon, Sprint, and ATT, the most unlikely of partners, carry each
other’s traffic on their networks because to do so benefits all three
Advancing a Healthcare Vision Through Partnering
are a lot of areas in which healthcare can benefit through partnering.
At the top of my list is coordinated patient care, the sharing of data
in real time. The technology is available that makes the care process
much more efficient as data follows the patient as he/she moves around
our health system. A pretty basic concept that is out of scope for many
healthcare IT organizations.
What Other Industries Have Done, and How
The Adjacent Possible
“adjacent possible” is a concept described in the book Where Good Ideas
Come From by Steven Johnson. New technologies get developed, then
combine into larger concepts, even game changers. For example, YouTube
could not have happened 10 years ago primarily because the internet was
painfully slow; it took hours to download a video. YouTube’s success
came when the adjacent possibilities of faster internet, ubiquitous home
computers and rise in cottage industry fell into place: the right
technology germinates innovation.
Integration Possible, Possible Partnerships
is the holy grail of IT applications. GPS was devised and could track
the where but not the mapping to plan the next “step.” When GPS was
married to GIS (digital maps), the result was revolutionary, a perfect
example of combining two adjacent possibilities. We have had retail
systems improved by barcodes, then married to package delivery systems,
all connected to the internet. Another example of integration that
changed everyday life in this country; partnerships in action.
Healthcare IT Would Improve with Partnership
healthcare systems are generally “closed” even from one another,
captive to their one solution. For example, the most popular EHR system,
called EPIC, is not “open;” it does not interoperate with other
systems. Information gets isolated in EPIC’s silos, preventing sharing,
which makes seamless patient care impossible across healthcare segments.
Adding to healthcare’s woes, with closed systems like this upgrades
become prohibitive from a cost and disruption standpoint.
I would like to see doctors, patients, hospitals, and their network of
care givers have secure access to information like we have when using
Healthcare and the Adjacent Possible
what are the adjacent possibilities for healthcare? What can we use
today to do a better job caring for patients at a lower cost? What
partnerships can deliver on these possibilities?
Smart Phones and Networks - An Integrators Dream
there is never a replacement for a physician, smartphones make
ancillary healthcare needs possible via applications (apps). With
personalized, secure apps, one can have basic healthcare needs met:
track exercise, reorder medications, schedule appointments, view
healthcare data, research concerns via the internet and get connected
automatically with your doctor. Smart devices could be one of the most
valuable tools to enter into our complicated health system.
chain management has transformed many industries by getting sales,
vendors, transportation companies, and numerous other partners on the
same page. This kind of interaction can be repurposed by making the
patient the central focus of the system. We can interact with a doctor,
the nurse, the hospital, labs, the next doctor, the next hospital, the
next lab, pharmaceutical and insurance companies, physical therapy
organizations, and even aging in place systems. All chained together in
real time in a... Patient Chain.
technology person, I understand the importance of data/data security.
Unfortunately, valuable patient information today is only narrowly
accessible, trapped inside disparate healthcare systems. Getting data
into the cloud is the first step in making that data visible. Cloud
technology has advanced to the point that it is the perfect partnering
tool. At all times available to all partners and just as secure, if not
more so, than traditional systems isolated in an IT facility at a
When data is visible, we can analyze it and determine
its relevance. Patient data captured in the cloud can be accessed by
other doctors in the chain. An accurate knowledge about the patient will
build over time without the errors found when the same data is
transcribed multiple times by different people on different systems.
Think of your sign-in sheet at the doctor’s office. How many times have
you filled in your data on a lengthy form when you visit a new doctor or
Event Management Systems: The Ripple Effect – and the Ability to React
software, “event processing” analyzes the “change of state.” Is the
event significant and to whom is it significant? What protocols are set
in process? This software residing in the cloud would be transformative
in healthcare. Imagine continually updated medical data, event
processed. When something happens to a patient the results will ripple
through the system and reach all the patient’s partners that need to
The Accountable Care Act (ACA) emphasizes population
management. Managing health events would be a core component to
population management by alerting the right partner in the patient care
continuum (chain) when there is a problem or even a potential problem.
Getting proactive will let doctors get ahead of the problem before the
situation worsens - and gets more expensive.
Build a Vision, Then Leverage What is Out There
unleashes the extraordinary opportunities of the adjacent possible.
Partners can expand your thinking - away from the more difficult “how”
towards the more visionary “what could be.” Partnerships that have the
greatest value are focused on a common vision that can be reached faster
and more effectively using a team approach. They leverage the
successful ideas and practices of others, opening unlimited resources.
Look for that adjacent possible everywhere.
with a career in innovative technology, John was a Trustee in the Johns
Hopkins Health System for 15 years and earned a master’s degree in
Computer Science from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab. This
combination of experience and education allows a broad perspective on
healthcare, software and how the transfer of software platforms between
industries have had a transformational impact. He believes the
healthcare industry can, and should, be next.