How Purpose-driven Interoperability and Data Quality Positioned Surescripts to Fill Communication Gaps During the Pandemic - Tom Skelton


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Many private organizations have stepped up to provide support as we deal with the pandemic. Surescripts, for their part, repurposed clinical direct messaging infrastructure to help health systems communicate critical information from the frontlines to federal agencies. It’s a great story of a private organization rapidly transitioning to fill a need.

What we’d like to explore, and what we think you will most benefit from hearing, is why Surescripts was in a position to do this in the first place. And ultimately, why co-host Shahid Shah calls them “THE interoperability story of our century”.

On this episode we explore:

  • Surescripts 19-year journey to build a national network that handles 19 Billion transactions per year
  • How good, purpose-driven work lead to success
  • Why getting the data flowing is the easy part, while data quality and workflow integration are the real problems
  • How purpose-driven data quality, which we often refer to as data fidelity at #HCBiz, guided the identification and prioritization of efforts and generated an alignment with partners to get stuff done.
  • The building blocks that resulted from the effort including a master patient index with 314 million patients, an accurate list of all prescribers in the U.S., an accurate list of all pharmacies in the U.S., clinical direct messaging, and more.
  • How those building blocks make the Surescripts network a “platform for innovation”, and for responding to emergencies like this pandemic
  • Whether or not we need a Surescripts-like network for other areas of healthcare like labs, imaging, etc.

There’s a lot you can take away from this. My hope is that at a minimum you walk away with a better understanding of your “data quality responsibility” and why use-case-driven interoperability is your best path forward.

About Tom Skelton

Tom is amazed by the changes he’s seen over the course of more than 30 years working in healthcare technology. Before joining Surescripts in 2014, he served as Chief Executive Officer of Foundation Radiology Group, a private equity-backed diagnostic imaging services firm that grew substantially under his leadership. His many other career accomplishments include serving as Chief Executive Officer for Misys Healthcare Systems and as a member of Elcomp Systems’ founding team.


About Surescripts

Our purpose is to serve the nation with the single most trusted and capable health information network, built to increase patient safety, lower costs, and ensure quality care. Since 2001, Surescripts has led the movement to turn data into actionable intelligence, and convened the Surescripts Network Alliance™ to enhance prescribing, inform care decisions, and advance the healthcare industry.

Links and Resources

More from Surescripts:

My favorite book on interoperability and Data Quality:

The #HCBiz Show! is produced by Glide Health IT, LLC in partnership with Netspective Media.

162 episodes