The healthcare interoperability space is unique. Although people have been implementing healthcare interoperability projects for many years, there is still much complexity and confusion, and standards change direction very rapidly. This constant evolution can challenge even the most experienced team’s ability to operationalize the technical solutions built to solve interoperability issues.

 How can organizations navigate the complexity and drive to a successful deployment of interoperability technology? Below are three often overlooked or forgotten components that are critical to long-term operational success.


#1 – Team: Don’t overlook the power of the team.

 We see too many organizations that place the “interoperability” part of the deployment solely on the shoulders of the IT / technical staff. Yes, the IT team serves an important role, but healthcare interoperability is much more than a technology / IT project.

 Therefore, when faced with any healthcare interoperability project, include different organizational stakeholders as key project team members. Include people on the team who will use the solution, those who will administer it, those who will monitor it, and those who are responsible for building it. The inclusion of these other members will help ensure that what is built is used.


#2 – Documentation: Don’t forget the basics.

 Organizations that do not follow disciplined project management rigor will veer off the vision and scope of the interoperability project.   Due to some event – a staff change, an upgrade failure, a technical mishap –organizations will find themselves at week 5, 10, or even 20 with little progress, or pulled off on a side road, and begin questioning what they are really doing and where they are going.

 Avoid the chaotic swirl and loss of momentum that these situations cause by documenting the purpose, the requirements, and the target end-state of the interoperability project at the very beginning. Then, carefully document progress and changes to the project as it goes; never taking your aim off of the core purpose and requirements.


#3 – Scope: Don’t miss out on incremental wins.

 An interoperability project is often just the tip of the iceberg, with all sorts of interesting “what if’s” lurking just beneath the water! Once the project gets started the organization will quickly realize lots more possibilities exist and multiple paths can be taken. This realization may cause some teams to become overwhelmed and paralyzed. It may cause other teams to want to scope out a massive project that will never get out of the planning phase.

 To ensure the success of an interoperability project, define achievable milestones that will demonstrate incremental success. Communicate the importance of the milestones. Celebrate when a milestone has been reached. And, reinforce the role that the milestone plays in the progression toward the overall interoperability vision of the organization.


Concluding Thoughts

 Some organizations begin with all of these best practices in mind. Those teams who stick to these fundamentals will have better operational success and expectation alignment within their organizations. However, some organizations today are already overwhelmed with IT projects and “another” interoperability project might be one too many.

 That’s one of the reasons the Zen Healthcare team exists. We specialize in architecting, managing, and deploying interoperability projects, acting as an extension of your team, but only when you need us.

 If your organization could use a hand with these best practices or you would like some additional pointers on how best to operationalize your interoperability project, reach out to Zen today at or call 949-396-0361.

Zen Healthcare IT Case Study


Download Full Case Study PDF


Enter your name and email to instantly access the case study.