Interoperabilitymaking disparate information systems communicate with each otherrepresents a tremendous undertaking for every 21st century healthcare provider. At the same time, it is a business essential. Whos got the right strategy? Check out some options

Theyre everywhere. Mobile computers are on the move in the ER and OR, atop carts as physicians make rounds, and in the hands of nurses logging vital signs at the bedside or dispensing meds. With the growing adoption of EMRs, mobile computing use among hospital-based clinicians has moved beyond standalone, knowledge-based applications such as drug reference databases and medical calculators to systems that can increase clinician productivity, reduce errors and eliminate inefficient processes.

The idea of meaningful use, mandated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, has been whittled down into defining the enigmatic term meaningful. In this search, discussions within the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT and the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems (AMDIS) have focused on the practice of medicine, not the implementation of IT. If the meaningful use of information systems does not have an obvious and profound impact on the safety and quality of healthcare, then it ceases to have meaning.

It was the height of the Great Depression, a seemingly terrible time to launch Americas first business journalFortune. Or was it? America was wrought with economic crisis and Fortune set out to smartly profile entrepreneurial culture. The crash piqued American business leaders desire to look into the back-offices of entrepreneurs to see what was working and what was not; and to look at government policy and practice to offer insight and truth. Fortune met a need, it answered the call with real-world, intelligent, upscale, objectiveand often brash and criticalarticles for business leaders under siege.

With the emergence of the CMIO position in the mid-1990s, the recognition by the administrative, healthcare information services and, importantly the American medical profession that the role of a senior informatics healthcare executive was vital and integral to the provision of healthcare services was clear.

It might be the biggest thing ever to happen to health information technology: billions of federal dollars to fund adoption and use of interoperable electronic health records (EHRs). But will health IT reduce errors, cut costs, save jobs, allow interoperability among disparate clinical systems, and transform healthcare? Could the greatest cost be the quality of medicine physicians practice?

If we broke off the rear-view mirror, took a meaningful look at what data and functions physicians really need from an EMR to provide actionable patient information for swift, comprehensive, interactive diagnosis and treatment monitoringwhat kind of system would we create?

As the smartphone overtakes the PDA, questions arise as to whether they are simply just cool new alternatives or whether they are clinical tools, critical to healthcare practitioners workflow. Are some smartphones smarter than others?

An inside look at cardiovascular information systems (CVIS) and the myriad data elements that go into the successful integration of cardiology images, lab results, patient histories and hemodynamic monitoring and procedure data to facilitate access to key caregivers at the point of carewherever that may be.

The typical hospital radiology department is often chaotic as staff struggle to manage patient studies and reschedule appointment changes and emergency cases in the face of constant disruptions.

While a recent clinical study found that health IT systems have the potential to reduce deaths by 15 percent, in addition to saving costs, the lead investigator advises that a unified paradigm shift and proper planning across a health system is required to produce effective results and improve patient care.