Learning From the Airlines and Banks

By Terry Edwards  /  27 Aug 2014

There’s so much happening in the healthcare industry right now. We’re rapidly innovating new technologies, shifting our care delivery models, and working to meet new metrics that will determine reimbursements and affect our bottom lines. To effectively navigate in this new environment, healthcare leaders should look to other industries for successful experiences that we can apply to the healthcare field.

On Interoperability

As my colleague Tom Hills discussed last week, our industry is still struggling to collaborate and share information easily. Interoperability is an ongoing problem, and it’s something we need to address if we’re going to deliver the kind of coordinated care required to meet our healthcare goals.

Like healthcare, the airline industry is another large, complex and fragmented industry. Globally, there are thousands of airlines operating nearly 40 million flights per year. Some of the largest airlines serve more than 400 cities and carry hundreds of millions of passengers each year. Airlines are owned and operated by different companies in different states, countries, and time zones.

And yet, despite the scope and fragmentation of the airline industry, each airline has easy, up-to-date access to information about other airlines’ flights. They can see dates, times and destinations, as well as information about layovers and even on-time status. Almost anyone – including passengers – can book a flight on any given airline. How can we incorporate this kind of transparency to fix healthcare’s own interoperability challenge? What other best practices can we apply?

On Security

I can’t stress enough how important it is for providers to take a holistic approach to securing communications, no matter the modality. But we aren’t the only industry trusted with sensitive consumer information. The banking industry, in particular, deals with this challenge every day.

It’s hard to overstate the enormity of the banking industry. Hundreds of banks – from large, international corporations to the smallest neighborhood banks – handle trillions of dollars of hard-earned money that moves quickly from one place to the next. Banks must be extremely cautious to protect their customer’s account numbers, transaction history and personal identification data to prevent fraud and theft. To do this, they regularly monitor accounts for fraudulent charges and alert consumers to any potential issues. Even more noteworthy, these features and fraud monitoring programs are often built into each bank’s service offering.

So what kinds of best practices can we glean from this industry when thinking about the security of patient health information?

As the healthcare industry continues to innovate to improve patient care and outcomes, what other industries can we explore for inspiration? Are there other best practices – such as TeamSTEPPS approach recently discussed here by Steve Harden – which we can apply more broadly to achieve these goals? Ideas and suggestions welcome in the comments below.

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