How Lack of Interoperability is an Expensive Mistake

"Interoperability", by definition, describes systems and devices that can exchange, interpret, and subsequently present data such that it can be understood by a user.  In my mind, it means accessible, open, flexible and impervious to the control of outside influences.  Open and flexible however is not the norm in the healthcare space for many providers of software solutions.  The challenge for healthcare providers today becomes how to effectively leverage both innovation and competition to drive down or keep its costs stable when software providers attempt to monopolize their entire enterprise.

Software providers are prone to :

  • Represent that a single source solution provides a more seamless user experience.
  • Portray that better pricing comes from a contract that is all-inclusive.
  • Optimal integration can only be achieved with a single-sourced solution.
  • Implementation costs can be best managed with a single source relationship.

Trusting these premises to be accurate would be like suggesting that the ideal government for its people is a benevolent dictator. While "single source" is readily sold, its long-term viability is difficult.  However, clients are still prone to be influenced to make what appears to be an easy decision to select a sole source solution. Some of us can remember the 1980's IBM ad campaign that featured full-page advertisements with a pillow as its focal point.  The premise was that if an executive wanted to be able to sleep at night, then IBM was the obvious choice.

Can you imagine if, after you purchased your GM car, the only place that it could be fixed was at a GM dealership? For those of us who drive newer cars that don’t require much service … maybe that's not an issue or a concern.  However, as your car ages, you must find a cost-effective way to manage the service, and usually, that is not the original selling dealer.

With software installations, service costs usually increase as the software matures.  Services that the software provider provided for free originally are now significant expenditures. This happens because the solution remains proprietary because the vendor encourages it and the customers let it happen.  The result is that the only trusted resource to provide service with any technical experience is the software provider.

A better solution might be for an organization to rid itself of those proverbial "training wheels".  It requires fortitude, planning and taking responsibility, but using multiple providers, combined with a competent internal team, can result in building a more fiscally sound infrastructure and enterprise.  Is the C-suite manager or executive prepared to analyze and act on these long terms IT decisions?  We will discuss that topic in my next blog.

What successes or frustrations have you had at your organization as the result using multiple vendors? Leave a comment below to discuss.