The Center for Medical Interoperability, an industry group and lab designed to make health care technologies and tools work together in a way that improves care, will soon set up shop in its new OneCity headquarters. This week I chatted with Ed Cantwell, the center’s executive director, about the center’s mission.
Tell me about the center’s background. How’d it come to be? It starts with Gary and Mary West. … They were self-made billionaires. … They, essentially, are giving back their fortune. [Gary] thinks the percentage we’re spending on health care is a threat to the nation, and certainly it’s a threat to the American dream. … A centralized lab is where an industry comes together. They drop their competitiveness, and they come together and form a nonprofit, for the good of the public, for the good of the industry. And they agree upon the underlying framework on which their industry exists.
Interoperability is something everyone talks about, but how do we actually make these devices and technologies work together? Step one: You need to form a board that represents enough procurement power to really drive the change. Because, I’m sorry to be so blunt, money’s the only thing that’s going to change it. Government will never solve it. … Then this board of directors has to bring their technology people, and we have to understand the problem, and we have to have a very aggressive set of campaigns to solve it. … Then you have to build a physical place to do the engineering, on behalf of the industry, not on behalf of the vendors. …
It’s not that people aren’t talking about the problem, it’s just that nobody’s doing anything about [it]. … Somebody’s going to step up and solve this problem, and when it happens it’s going to be truly transformational.
Big names, big goals
- The Center for Medical Interoperability board includes Milton Johnson, chairman and CEO of HCA Holdings Inc.; Wayne Smith, president and CEO of Community Health Systems Inc.; William Carpenter III, chairman and CEO of LifePoint Hospitals; Dr. Jeffrey Balser, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine; and Dr. Michael Schatzlein, former CEO of Saint Thomas Health and now senior vice president and group ministry operating executive for St. Louis-based parent company Ascension Health.
- The center will eventually employ 100 to 125 engineers to test if vendor products meet the criteria of interoperability as defined by the center.