Think Tank | Moving Forward With Interoperability

InterSystems Global Summit 2016

by Marlowe Greenberg, CEO, Foothold Technology

For the last several years, Foothold Technology has participated in the InterSystems Global Summit. It’s an invitation-only event where leaders convene to discuss and learn how to tackle healthcare IT challenges. Like previous years, we participated in two tracks at the conference. Our developers were on the technical track while I was on the Healthcare Leadership track. This year’s conference was in Phoenix and it was jarring to be surrounded by the natural beauty of Camelback Mountain, while delving into the details of HL7 and CCDA exchanges.

The event included about 100 executives from various parts of our healthcare system gathering together to talk primarily about the state of health information interoperability and its impact on patient care. I heard from Northwell, Mt Sinai, Hunterdon Medical Center, HealthFirst, and a number of other leaders in the field. In general, most participants were of the opinion that things were progressing reasonably well; more organizations were sharing more data and more organizations were using that data in their work to treat patients. As the only participant who works in the behavioral health/mental health sector, I had a slightly different perspective. However, even from Foothold’s perspective, the implementation of the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment Program (DSRIP) Performing Provider Systems (PPS) has meant that more Foothold customers are looking to exchange data than ever before. So, indeed, this trend is notable across the healthcare industry.

Most participants, including Foothold, agreed that one area of major challenge to the forward march of data interoperability is how to reorganize workflows so that clinicians can actually use the data in their EHRs at the point of service. This is a challenge whether you’re talking about an ER doctor who wants to know salient details about a patient’s medical history when that patient walks into the ER or whether you’re talking about a mental health clinician meeting with a consumer and what data they would like to see from other healthcare providers. It does no good to have technical interoperability if the data isn’t presented in a time and place in the workflow that makes it useful. The challenge with this issue is that the software developers in the room, Foothold included, can’t really answer that question. It is ultimately going to be the users; the doctors, the clinicians, and the homeless shelter directors, who are going to have to tell us what data would be useful for them. If you could know anything as someone is checking into a shelter, what would you like to know about that person’s medical history? As someone is coming in for their group session, what data would be helpful for you in your treatment of them? These questions are difficult, but in my mind, they represent the difference between a truly profound shift in the delivery of healthcare and a nice technical achievement that never really does anything. In other words, this is a crucial question to answer.

In all, it was a highly worthwhile couple of days and it is always good to be reminded of the fact that behavioral and mental health are still considered afterthoughts by much of the medical profession. It is an honor to be out there, fighting for you and the value you bring to your consumers and to the healthcare industry.

About Foothold Technology
Foothold Technology, an electronic record, EHR vendor and human services software provider, offers web-based software for human service providers that eases the burden of documentation, providing agencies with the freedom to focus on their Mission. More than 1,000 agencies nationwide count on Foothold’s AWARDS software to manage their services, including Mental Health, Alcohol & Substance Use Disorder, Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities, Homeless & Housing, Employment & Training, Seniors, Veterans, Youth & Family, and more. Having originated from three agencies in 2000, AWARDS is a complete electronic record and EHR software for human service providers that also supports administrative activities, including facilities maintenance, human resources, scheduling and alerts, audit reports, and automated billing. AWARDS offers full interoperability with any other federally certified system for participation in Health Information Exchanges (HIE) and Regional Health Information Organizations (RHIOs). It is also the only record-keeping system that is certified as both a Behavioral Health EHR software system and an HMIS software package (Homeless Management Information System). With roots and origins in human services, no software vendor is better prepared to support you than Foothold Technology. For more information, visit