By Heather Seftel-Kirk, FedHealthIT Contributing Author

Earlier this year, FedHealthIT announced its Top 100. Nominated and chosen by peers, these individuals have been recognized for driving change and advancement, for their willingness to challenge conventional wisdom, and for giving back to the larger Federal Health IT and Consulting community.

This week we spoke with Dr. Tom Love, Co-Founder and CEO of ShouldersCorp about the need for a deeper level of sharing and the importance of understanding core requirements.

Dr. Love is the author of several refereed journals, books, technical conference papers, technical magazine articles and technical reports. He has been a member of the Board of Visitors for Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute since 2008 and is an active member of the Industry Advisory Council (IAC).

A basis for success

“At the core of all of these are conversations focused on how technology can be used to reduce the cost and complexity of healthcare, and what we, as technology providers, can do to ensure success and smooth transitions.”
At the core of Love’s success in the industry is his willingness to be part of collaborative efforts aimed at improving healthcare. Dr. Love was selected as a member of an executive committee to provide recommendations to the Department of Veterans Affairs regarding the VistA electronic medical records system and subsequently led a 25 company Health IT working group to provide industry advice to the incoming administration on Health IT.

“At the core of all of these are conversations focused on how technology can be used to reduce the cost and complexity of healthcare, and what we, as technology providers, can do to ensure success and smooth transitions.”

When modernization fails

Among his most important contributions is his work in Agile Legacy Re-engineering.  According to Love, effective modernization efforts are key to moving Agencies forward.  When those efforts fail, it is usually the result of inexperienced teams who suffer from “massive scope creep”.

“Modernization teams fail to understand the value of using a working system as a functional specification for developing a new system. That is the model we use and have found effective –- replicating exactly what exists using a modern language and architecture and only then adding additional features and functions.”

Part of the problem, he says, is that contractors are often too focused on serving their needs or showcasing their new ideas and strategies, rather than focusing on the needs of government.

Moving to a deeper level of sharing

Love says there is a basic lack of understanding of what real sharing means. “Back in the 80’s the VA and DOD were mandated by Congress to share data. While this was good in concept it was really a mistake.  They should have been required to share code and systems instead.”

He says the same issue exists in the commercial world where companies try to buy into other markets by acquiring companies and then try to make different products developed with very different languages and architectures work together.  The subsequent integration process is so hard and so expensive that it rarely gets done.

“This is very evident at the HIMSS conference each year. There were hundreds of companies exhibiting but very little sharing. Instead the focus was on competition.”

The bottom line, he says, is that deep technical sharing needs to occur for the industry to move to where it needs to be.

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