Jack H. Evans
Director of Solutions Architecture
Indiana Health Information Exchange
“Short cuts make long delays,” said one of the main characters in the book Lord of the Rings. That’s not always true, but it’s worth noting.
Some years ago, I worked with a software developer that had been recently hired. He frequently asked me about the “tricks” that made it possible to develop software quickly. At first, I didn’t understand the question. As with any profession, experience and knowledge are guides to the most productive solutions. Practice and more practice make it possible to be more efficient. I came to realize that these were concepts that this developer didn’t understand. He thought that there were shortcuts that would let him bypass hard work and dedication and be successful. In the long term, he didn’t work out in that organization.
New ideas for what we do are everywhere. There’s always a sea of new technologies to sift through, from FHIR to emergent encryption standards, and even Blockchain. There are new ways of thinking about data and the ever-evolving needs of our exchange members. We are always looking for new ways to innovate and better support our mission. There’s a lot of looking at the latest hype over a new product or tool that will “revolutionize” data exchange. Or, perhaps it’s a new idea that will “solve” interoperability. The sales pitch almost always boils down to, “our product solves your problems without effort.” In other words, they’re selling a shortcut. No product is perfect, despite the pitch. That product will never be able to do all that’s needed and it will always need work to integrate and deploy. It may end up being useful, but it’s just not going to be as easy as it sounds.
Most problems don’t have an easy fix. Health information exchange ties together the different needs of health care providers, informaticists, technologists, and analysts. At IHIE, we have more than a decade of experience, dedication, and hard work. That makes the complicated task of information exchange possible. That’s what makes what we do valuable and effective.
In the end, there are no shortcuts.