Interoperability Lessons Learned in the Garden
The hot humid days are here to stay in Michigan, despite the cold and wet weather that seemed to linger for months. The leaves on the trees are green, flowerbeds and gardens are blooming, and the grass needs to cut weekly (or more). Besides the growth happening in our yards and across the fields and forests of our great state, there is also growth happening within our healthcare and community organizations.
During the month of May, 36 organizations “turned on” connections to GLHC or to fellow GLHC participants. These organizations vary in type from medical practice, to Federally Qualifies Health Centers (FQHCs), to Health Systems, to Home Health agencies. They represent 19 different counties across the state and represent all five GLHC regions.
Here are five lessons that gardening and the growth of interoperability have in common.
1. Have a vision and a plan
Sprinkling whatever seeds you have left over from last year onto the grass or garden bed will not yield well or be easy to maintain. You might end up with only cucumbers. Or the tomatoes might shade the lettuce. If you want to have pumpkins ready for Halloween time, you better be sure to plant pumpkin seeds in the spring.
Similarly, implementing new technology in a healthcare or community organization without having a vision and a plan will not bode well. Great Lakes Health Connect works with organizations prior to implementation to discuss their short and long-term vision and goals.
2. Constant tending
A garden is not a “set it and forget it” situation. Weeds can quickly overcome vegetable plants and dry soil will prevent growth. Tending and close attention needs to be paid to the garden to create an environment where the plants are healthy and strong.
Technology solutions left in a bubble will not enhance patient care, reduce costs, or improve workflow. Processes and procedures need to be in place to maintain the hardware and the software, as well as train staff, and document changes. This maintenance requires a committed and knowledgeable team representing various departments across an organization.
3. Build a fence
The last thing you want to see in your garden is a deer chomping on your green beans or a bunny nibbling on your tomato plants. Building a fence around the garden protects the plants that you have spent time planning and tending. The fence might also provide support to plants with vines!
Security is the “fence” of interoperability growth. Privacy and security policies and procedures protect patient information across the GLHC participant network. Great Lakes Health Connect is proud to be HITRUST certified. This certification is third party assurance that our solutions meet key regulations and requirements for protecting and securing sensitive private healthcare information.
4. Have patience and trust the process
Seeds take days and weeks to develop into little plants, and then more days and weeks to grow leaves and vines. It is usually months before vegetables and fruits are available for harvest and make it to your dinner table.
Changing infrastructure and workflow at your organization is disruptive no doubt. Communicating that the changes are part of a plan to enhance patient workflow and reduce costs, is key to adoption and technology success.
5. Reap the harvest
After planning decision are made, seeds are planted, weeds are picked, holes in the fence are patched, and the summer sun and rain has done its magic … it is time to enjoy those homegrown fruits and vegetables! The hard work has paid off!
Forming and strengthening relationships and technical connections with Great Lakes Health Connect and fellow healthcare and community organizations takes planning, dedication, and a team of individuals that are committed to making a difference in the health of their communities.
Michigan’s healthcare and community organizations grew their interoperability during the month of May 2018. Check out the list of connections! Ask them for tips!
This article was originally published on Great Lakes Health Connect and is republished here with permission.