iEHR mess highlights the importance of communication in health IT

If health IT leaders could take anything away from last week's hearing in which House members blasted officials from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense for opting to not create an integrated electronic health record from scratch, it's the importance of communication for all collaborative efforts.

The decision to abandon the project and instead develop a system from existing parts has been deemed by some to be a massive failure, and it would be hard to blame anyone for feeling that way. The cost for the project doubled to a whopping $12 billion as of last September, according to Nextgov, before the plug finally was pulled early last month.

Outgoing VA CIO Roger Baker admitted at the hearing that poor communication between the two departments was one of the big reasons for altering the plan.

"While no missed milestone has yet caused a change in the 'critical path' toward Initial Operating Capacity in 2014," Baker testified, "the program has met very few of the milestones it has set."

Translation: Too many silos = not enough cooperation.

As highlighted by a recently published Deloitte whitepaper, one of five challenges identified by hospital CIOs as key to achieving looming projects like Meaningful Use and ICD-10 is improving organizational understanding to shore up support.  Without a keen understanding of such projects by all impacted departments, such efforts are destined for failure.

Similarly, Russell Branzell, the newly announced CEO of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, told me in a recent interview that on a national level, many of CHIME's partner associations and professional societies are "very siloed in terms of the work they're doing." One of his immediate goals for the organization, going forward, is to get all of those health IT stakeholders on the same page.

As interoperability continues to move up as a priority for providers, breaking down silos for improved communication and collaboration--on all levels--will only continue to grow in importance.

The alternative could have a lot of health IT stakeholders seeing red, something with which the VA and DoD are all too familiar. - Dan (@FierceHealthIT)

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