The big news out of Las Vegas last week had nothing to do with winning hands or record breaking jackpots and everything to do with the future of healthcare. With the HIMSS 2016 conference taking place CIOs from both provider and payer organizations were intent on connecting with each other and vendors to find the best solutions to support the rapid movement of the healthcare industry to the digital realm.

Prior to the conference our experts Monty Zarouk and Spencer Hamons predicted that the biggest conversations would be around data security, big data analytics, and migration of records to the cloud. And, they were spot on. But what pleased both Zarouk and Hamons was that healthcare IT leaders took these individual conversations one step further and unified them as a pledge to healthcare interoperability. Leading the way on this pledge to interoperability was Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, Sylvia Burwell with strong support from electronic healthcare records (EHR) vendor, Epic Systems.

In short, interoperability means better access to health information, better overall care delivery for patients, and the opportunity to continue to control the cost of delivering quality care. Secretary Burwell was quick to acknowledge that technology “supports the entire effort.”

For Zarouk and Hamons, the key to interoperability and unlocking healthcare data for patient, provider, and payee alike, is to be found in how CIOs architect their networks. What does a well architected network look like? As Hamons noted it’s a combination of “reliability, performance, agility, IOPs, and non-disruptive operations” that is, added Monty Zarouk, a network that is “strong, secure, and resilient; one that can continue operations during critical moments by capturing and preserving data down to the granularity of tags within electronic medical records (EMRs).”

So what does a modern healthcare architecture, one that is capable of supporting the drive for interoperability, look like? Hamons identified these three features:

• It is built with cloud-enablement in mind, using a data fabric to ensure that data can be moved seamlessly between public, private, and hybrid clouds and accessed instantaneously.
• It is virtualized to ensure continuous and non-disruptive operations and repeatable scalability to accommodate the exponential growth healthcare organizations are experiencing.
• It has a proven ability to integrate with, and support, major inpatient systems like Epic’s, Cerner’s, and MEDITECH’s electronic health records (EHR), as well as other outpatient-centric EHRs, with exceptional vendor support for roll-out and training.

Interested in seeing what a modern healthcare architecture looks like in action? Watch this short video on Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin: