Whether it is a solo medical practice, rural hospital, or massive health system, sharing medical data securely between the complicated web of electronic health records (EHRs) is an ongoing challenge that both big and small healthcare providers face. As one of the largest health care delivery systems in America, interoperability is not a new concept at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). In fact, in VA facilities enterprise-wide, our Veterans are benefiting from healthcare interoperability that is happening on a massive scale not only within the agency, but also with Department of Defense (DoD) facilities around the globe. Clinical data exchange between VA and DoD has been ongoing in some form or another since the early 2000s, but a major overhaul in 2016 replaced legacy data sharing services with a state-of-the-art, HL7 FHIR-based system which makes DoD clinical data from around the world easily accessible to VA clinicians in their existing desktop applications
One of the questions I often see directed towards small businesses on new solicitations is: “How do you intend to staff for this project?”
Answer: We staff exactly the same way that the big guys do it.
I find it odd that small businesses must answer this type of inquiry because nothing separates many of us from big businesses other than perception. We are capable of the same innovation, and use the same processes and industry standards that make some big businesses effective. I say "some" big businesses as all of us have seen the seed sown on shallow ground kind of large business, whose processes and leadership did not grow as fast as the business did.
However, here at Ellumen, we ARE more flexible and in some ways, we offer advantages that some bigger entities cannot.
We frown on the practice of preassigning characteristics to people without full understanding of the complete picture. It’s equally as harmful to stereotype companies.
Assuming all small businesses can't achieve the same results as some big businesses hurts the consumer just as much as it hurts small businesses because it leaves them blind to the benefits that mature small companies can offer.
The infographic below represents a few examples of how Ellumen, as a small business, gets results.
In 2015 the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was facing a problem. As the VA OI&T organization was charging forward to align with target architectural goals and prepare for the next phase of clinical data sharing with the DoD and other partners the VHA clinicians were becoming concerned. Their clinical data sharing applications, used daily in the treatment of thousands of veterans, which provide access to longitudinal health data from the DoD were slated to be sunset, and a viable replacement was not yet available on the enterprise level. VHA clinical staff recognized that this issue was not just a mere inconvenience but had the potential to cause patient safety issues and negatively impact the overall quality of care provided to our nation's Veterans.
Ellumen Successfully Employs Dark Launch on VA/DoD Record Sharing Initiative
Ellumen Inc., a trusted provider of healthcare IT services and solutions, has brought innovation to the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan by executing a successful dark launch—a Silicon Valley best practice for testing and deploying large web applications—on joint agency clinical systems. Dark launching deploys updates for complex, heavily subscribed web applications such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Ebay, and other tech industry leaders, but has not been used in the Federal realm until now. Ellumen’s first push to adopt dark launch is in line with Secretary of Defense Ash Carter’s goal to promote the benefits of Silicon Valley’s advancements within Federal agencies. During a press tour of Silicon Valley earlier this year, Secretary Carter announced his force of the future initiative that promotes two-way exchanges within the tech sector.
The Federal Government's efforts to develop a truly robust health data information exchange among the various clinical providers, particularly the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs and their commercial providers, presents a challenging environment for those that must test software being developed to support their missions. There are inumerable stakeholders, challenges with live data and all its variances, and multiple systems and system owners that must be considered. Add to this the configuration changes that ripple through a system of systems--the job of conducting quality testing becomes its own unique, complex and frequently daunting engineering problem.