In healthcare, technology is not the answer--data is

Guest post by Lynn McVey, chief operating officer of Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center, an acute care, 230-bed hospital in New Jersey

Mother Jones magazine recently published a critical piece about EHR vendor Epic. It reported: 1) "There is no interoperability."What does this mean? It means the information remains in silos. 2) "Epic focuses on Epic-to-Epic data exchanges."What does this mean? No interoperability and more silos. 3) "Is the government fed up with Epic?" What does this mean? I'll bet they wish they would have selected only one EHR vendor for all 5,000 hospitals. Sure, I understand free market and capitalism, but healthcare doesn't have the time it takes for mergers and acquisitions to end up with only a few solutions. It's ironic that we currently have hundreds of technology solutions in an industry that doesn't have technology skills.

My email's auto-signature is a quote from my healthcare hero, Atul Gawande, M.D. Dr. Gawande says "We have one opportunity to leverage technology to improve care. That opportunity is data." Fortunately, the hundreds of technology solutions that foster non-productive "silos" are not our savior. So now what?

Last week, I read a cover story on big data. The author wrote: we need "smart people to analyze our data." I agree and disagree. The majority of our healthcare management leaders are smart, educated and experienced clinicians. Yes, they are smart, but they do not have the right skills set to analyze data. We built "IT departments" in hospitals to bridge that gap. I don't believe that solution works for the long-term big picture. So the question becomes, how do we provide data analysis tools to our smart clinicians? The answer is so simple.

>> Read the full commentary at Hospital Impact