Take off the low-res sunglasses

I found these rather fantastic, if not rather unfeasible, sunglasses during some random internet browsing. They immediately reminded me of a recent meeting between clinicians and software vendors I attended; it felt to me like everyone was wearing these glasses. 

You can buy them here.

We all know that progress in health informatics has been glacially slow. Certainly the incremental innovation over the past 20,or even 30, years has resulted in progress, but lets be honest… the current, entrenched approaches haven’t ‘cracked it’ and probably never will. We don’t have interoperable health information. Sure, we have some limited interoperability, but there is no solution where the data is flowing seamlessly between systems.

Wasn’t it Einstein who said:

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

And I believe it was Albert who also said:

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

There are some very strong parallels between these statements and the world of health informatics. At some point in time we need to face that continuing to innovate in tiny, ‘safe’ increments will not solve the problem. We need to break away from the tired old approaches and to think orthogonally, ‘outside the box’ if you like, to find creative solutions that will accelerate innovation and what we’ve been doing. I think one candidate that will contribute to the radical innovation we need may be the openEHR approach

In this meeting I suggested (enthusiastically, hopefully) that if they could ‘zoom out’ and focus on a good quality data, they could achieve a solid basis for most of the work they wanted to do rather than focus in on achieving small, fragmented projects. Collaboration on a standardised data strategy would provide a foundation to not only achieve the small projects more easily BUT ALSO leverage the data structures to do a whole lot more besides. Unfortunately that message wasn’t well received. They didn’t seem to want to hear about alternative directions.

Personally, I feel like working with the openEHR approach to data standardisation is akin to taking these rather retro-style sunglasses off. The darkness and difficulty to see the way forward is removed. I’m now hopeful that we can make significant progress. The lack of clarity, direction and ‘pixelation’ has gone away – I’m seeing that we can start to achieve things with data that wasn’t possible before. And lastly the narrowed focus is widened with the understanding that if we ‘get the data right’ then almost anything is possible with good quality, unambiguous data.

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