Now that it's teed up, providers need to keep an eye on this ball

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James M. Berklan
James M. Berklan

Golfing great Jack Nicklaus had an insightful comment that long-term care providers might find helpful as they struggle with day-to-day tasks. He made it years ago, and it relates to electronic health records.

The Golden Bear said that if the governing bodies of golf really wanted to strike competitive balance the right way, they'd allow just one kind of ball to be used. As it's now stands (and always has been, as far as I know), each golfer can play with any brand of ball he or she wants — as long as it meets certain composition specifications. 

There are nuances to certain golf balls' performance — and lucrative endorsement deals to be signed — so the more that come into play, the merrier, as far as anyone who wants to make money is concerned. That's namely the golf ball manufacturers, players, broadcasters and golfing associations, to name just a few.

In other words, non-uniformity is just fine with them.

Let us switch now to the issue of electronic health records. It seems like someone, from the federal government on down, is always appealing for uniform languages and platforms for patient data records and transfers. And who can blame them? Transitions issues are some of the most serious and prevalent we deal with in long-term care.

It would seem to be in everyone's best interest to be using the same ball, er, same platform and language.

But we're nowhere near that yet. 

That's probably why I was so intrigued by one of Wednesdays' McKnight's Daily Update items about upcoming proposals for health data interoperability. 

Could this be the start of something big? A federal agency has already gathered some stakeholder comments on the creation of a framework, including that the office should “focus requirements on critical areas of inconsistency across existing network agreements” while “avoiding disrupting or duplicating existing efforts that are successful."

We'll probably have to see how physicians and hospitals get along with this type of thing first. But they are ultimately playing the same game we are. Uncle Sam seems to be issuing more and more regulations to make us all play better together, so watching them closely makes sense.

Golf still doesn't haven't a single ball it plays with, but it can be said there's a decent degree of interoperability among players and the rules.

Let's see if healthcare can follow suit.

Follow Editor James M. Berklan @JimBerklan.


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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.