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Be careful what you wish for - you might get it!

By Dennis Tribble posted 17 days ago


I read an interesting article in Beckers this morning about a Harvard Business Review questionnaire in which 43% of the respondents (characterized as 757 members of the Harvard Business Review audience who work in healthcare) said that “disconnected or incompatible systems” are the biggest hurdles to becoming more data driven.

While this is inarguably true, at least in our pharmacy world, that statement implies that resolving the connectivity problems would just fix things. My experience has been that this is not true; that there is still a lot of data cleanup and governance work ahead once the “data pipeline” has been opened.

A number of these disconnected systems are point (often departmental) systems that were built from the ground up with an extremely narrow view of who their users are, and what problems they are solving. This results in systems that are built on presumptions that can only be true in their current isolated state, which, in turn, results in data that may be unusable or, worse, misleading in the larger health-system information ecosystem.

In my experience, designing systems that are intended to “feed” the larger health-system information ecosystem requires understanding how that ecosystem identifies and uses data concepts and building such systems so that their “point of view” is consistent with the needs of that ecosystem (as opposed, for example, to meeting the internal needs of a given department). For many of these disconnected systems, that can turn out to be a very heavy lift.

Perhaps this is why standalone hospital pharmacy systems are now extremely rare. Building such systems to be compatible with electronic medical records (EMR) systems seems to be easier from the ground up in an EMR than it is to completely retrofit a standalone departmental system to play well with EMR systems.

What do you think?

As always, the comments in this blog reflect my thoughts and not necessarily those of ASHP or of my employer.

Dennis A. Tribble, PharmD, FASHP

Ormond Beach, FL