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The center will look to break down some of the barriers to sharing data that can make patient care more challenging.
One of the major obstacles to innovation in health IT is the lack of interoperability, which prevents the effective sharing of data and can make patient care more challenging.
Now, the Interoperability Institute (IOI), a nonprofit organization backed by Michigan’s health information network is looking to break down some of those interoperability barriers with the launch of Interop.WORLD, a virtual innovation center with a common business architecture in the Amazon Web Services cloud.
The virtual center intends to host a series of challenges for participating individuals, organizations or companies to develop cloud-based solutions that will solve health care issues and accelerate innovation. Officials with IOI said a special focus will be on technology that can ease the process of getting electronic patient consent, help share maternal health data, promote health equity and train the next generation of health care workers.
Tim Pletcher, executive director of the Michigan Health Information Network (MiHIN), which operates the institute and has been designated as the state’s health information exchange, said the IOI challenges should help speed up the process of getting new health care research and innovations into routine practice, a process that currently takes an average of 17 years.
“It's more innovation happening faster, in ways that have fewer unintended consequences,” Pletcher told reporters during a briefing at the AWS Summit in Washington, D.C. this week.
Participants will be supported with mentors and advice, including from Interop.Community, which brings together companies to work with open platforms and open source software on interoperability challenges. Other collaborators include the health IT organization Integrating the Health Enterprise USA and nonprofit Velatura Health Information Exchange. Challenge participants also receive AWS credits to offset use of AWS services in IOI’s health IT testbed, known as Interoperability Land.
The path to interoperable health data has not been easy, Pletcher said. Given the reluctance of health care providers to share data on actual patients, MiHIN used to create clinically relevant synthetic patient data that researchers could share with various entities or use to develop and test health care applications.
MiHIN acted as a middleman, he said, managing the synthetic data and choreographing an individual medical record by pulling together disparate sources of information, rather than accessing the actual patient data from the original sources.
The IOI effort takes inspiration from AWS’ Cloud Innovation Centers at Arizona State University and California Polytechnic State University that give students tech resources to work on challenges brought to them by their university. Kim Majerus, vice president of global education and U.S. state and local government at AWS, told reporters students have worked on smart and connected cities, as well as updating beat maps for law enforcement to show how they can more effectively police certain areas.
“It really does get down to sharing health data,” Majerus said. “I hope that all my health data is in one spot so that people don't have to ask me all sorts of questions,” she said. Interoperable health data “could help solve my challenges quicker.”
There are many reasons why health-care providers and technologists have refused to share data in the past, including concerns that data sharing may impact revenue, Pletcher said. It is incumbent on health systems to pave a “path of least resistance” that makes it easier for providers to work together to boost interoperability, he said. “We have found that you have to take every excuse away from people not sharing data.”