Category: Open & Interoperable
January 19 2016
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We often say that at Cerner we sit squarely at the intersection of information technology and health care. Clinical informaticists would say the same thing about their discipline, which the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) defines as “the science that develops methods, techniques and theories regarding how to use data, information and knowledge to support and improve biomedical research, human health and the delivery of health care services.” The research in this field combines clinical knowledge, computer science and other disciplines to ensure that the newest discoveries in each area are incorporated into health IT. In layman’s terms, informaticists are inspired by the need to develop solutions that enhance and improve the health, quality and safety of consumers through the use of information technology.

 Cerner’s research team participates in AMIA to understand key topics and learn about new technologies being developed at top-tier academic sites. Cerner’s research team provides technology and consulting services to our clients to help them run clinical trials, access data for research and support their organizational goals for clinical research. AMIA provides us the ability to learn from some of the top minds in the informatics industry and collaborate face-to-face on new tools. As you can imagine, focus areas in medical informatics often overlap heavily with Cerner’s imperatives.

 As we’ve participated in conferences, white papers and project collaborations with clients through AMIA, a few key themes have emerged that I’ve shared below to illustrate where the informatics community’s energy is focused and how the themes align with our efforts.

 Innovation within specialties

  • Detailed clinical workflows and unique data needs demand technology that fits those specific needs.
  • Nuanced technology needs and focused, passionate stakeholder groups are the force driving many of these technologies forward.
  • Cerner’s effort with xG Health and Geisinger to engineer their existing rheumatology application to work as a SMART app is a perfect example of innovative work within a specialty.

Desire to share innovations broadly and quickly

  • Informaticists and other academics want to be able to easily share their solutions with other organizations.
  • This is driven by a desire to tangibly improve care and allow academic work to fulfill its potential instead of going “from bench to bookshelf.”
  • Cerner is in a great position to serve as the disseminator of technology to other health systems that don’t focus on independent software development.
  • Our work with SMART applications and FHIR development efforts illustrates our commitment to developing technology that can be more easily shared across sites.

 Demand for open platforms and ecosystems

  • Informatics groups at leading academic sites crave autonomy in the form of open platforms for development. Several panels at AMIA’s Annual Symposium asked “how to innovate” within existing supplier platforms.
  • It was clear that these organizations are happy to dig in and develop care models, algorithms and other innovations as long as we give them the tools and ecosystem they need.
  • In Geisinger and xG Health’s case, all three parties worked with the FHIR specifications and Millennium platform to complete the proof-of-concept demonstration for their application.
  • Cerner’s work to develop these application programming interfaces to support an open ecosystem is crucial for these types of innovations to be completed in weeks rather than months or years.

 As a partner in projects like these and a leading supplier of health care technology, we have a two-fold responsibility to these organizations. One is to serve by providing the access and openness of our platforms required for medical informaticists to push the boundaries of what is possible. The bleeding edge innovations of today could become the standards of tomorrow. We also have a duty to disseminate innovation and ensure that all of our clients, academic and non-academic, benefit from work that pushes the envelope to provide the best care possible. Innovations like the ones we see from AMIA via conferences, webinars and publications give us exposure to these innovations and help us prepare our platforms and solutions to best fit these responsibilities.