In 2020 hospital systems were scrambling to prepare for COVID-19. Not just the clinicians preparing for a possible influx of patients, but also the infrastructure & analytics teams trying to navigate a maze of Electronic Health Records (EHR) systems. By default these EHRs are not interoperable, or able to speak to one another, so answering a relatively simple question “how many COVID-19 patients are in all of my hospitals?” can require many separate investigations.
Typically, the more complex a dataset is, the more difficult it is to build interoperable systems around it. Clinical data is extremely complex (a patient has many diagnoses, procedures, visits, providers, prescriptions, etc.), and EHR vendors built and managed their own proprietary data models to handle those data challenges. This has made it much more difficult for hospitals to track a patient’s performance when they switch hospitals (even within the same hospital system) and especially difficult for multiple hospitals systems to coordinate on care for nationwide epidemics (e.g. COVID-19, opioid abuse), which makes care less effective for patients & more expensive for hospitals.