Matt Hancock : What you need is ‘the Zapier for Digital Healthcare’

A strategy for realizing Matt Hancock's vision to build the most advanced health and care system in the world

The Future of Healthcare

Matt Hancock has defined an ambition to build the most advanced health and care system in the world, publishing a vision for the sector, as well as a portal for crowdsourcing ideas on its development and implementation.

ComputerWorld provides an analysis offering everything you need to know, and there is also some accompanying cynicism.

Digital Health Interoperability

Like the public sector and indeed all large enterprises, the number one challenge is interoperability – ‘This system doesn’t speak to that system’.

This has been an ongoing problem in the sector for years and is still the main challenge holding up end to end patient care as each step is served by its own isolated system.

There has been many efforts to build EHR (Electronic Health Record) systems however care is provided via multiple different specialists and agencies, and often each operates their own applications so data exchange between them is required for seamless process flow.

However as KLAS research describes while progress has been made this is still a troublesome area with clinicians not seeing the aggregated information they need.

Therefore one key focus for Matt Hancock is open standards, therefore defining them to be mandatory to success. The CEO of NHS Digital says they will be the enabling foundation for a new era of personalized healthcare.

Zapier for Healthcare – A Marketplace of Integrations

However open standards are only part of the solution, they represent the “theory” of integration, the practical reality of implementing them to achieve it is another complex battle in its own right. The KLAS research identified the three main factors that can cause resistance to integration.

The extremely promising aspect of Matt’s vision is the embrace of the right type of technology approaches that will address this challenge too. In the vision paper they describe these core principles:

  1. Internet first
  2. Put our tools in modern browsers
  3. Public cloud first
  4. Build a data layer with registers and APIs

The opportunity is that the leading ‘digital native’ pioneers have already demonstrated how these principles can and have been implemented.

A great analogy for this approach is Zapier – They offer a ‘marketplace of integrations’, what they call Zaps, micro integrations that interconnect a plethora of apps, such as ‘Save Gmail emails matching certain traits to a Google Spreadsheet‘, among thousands of others.

A Digital Healthcare ecosystem defined around this premise, based on open standards, would realize Matt Hancocks vision, with potential to ignite a compounding escalation of benefit.

In short common patterns of legacy systems and processes are repeated across the country. When one trust builds an integration, such as linking ePrescribing to a particular legacy EHR, this could create a ‘Health Zap’, that could be published to the marketplace where others who have the same requirements and configuration, could immediately reuse it the same way. As repeated adoption grows so more providers would be attracted to the market and new integrations built.

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