I was talking with a prospective client and he shared an analogy with me that has stuck in my head for quite some time. We were talking about a project he envisioned to connect his custom electronic health record to all the clinics his company works with, and we were not the only vendor he had been in contact with. He described to me how he had put together the list of the various systems he would need to connect to, and it added up to about a 130 different variations of message type, connectivity options and so on.

What he had found with the other vendors he spoke with is that they were all set to make the connections and deliver his messages, but he would have to create them first. Some even offered to give him the tools, but he would have to do the work himself. He said, “It’s like baking cookies, everyone wants a different flavor”. And while most of the vendors were able to offer up the most common ones: Chocolate chip, sugar or macadamia nut, what about all the other possible combinations? All they could offer was to work with the most common types, and if he needed any variations, he would have to build them himself, and they would deliver his cookies.

It was such a perfect description of why interoperability between health records is so challenging. It would be simple if every system had the same ingredients and everyone wanted the same thing, but what works for one doesn’t necessarily fit the other, and what is important to this provider may have no interest for the next. Everyone wants their cookies their way.

His way of describing his frustration hit particularly close to home since my wife works in a bakery. Sure, the bakery has the standard offerings they put out on the shelves every day and know what is most popular but judging by the amount of work she does as a decorator, more people want her custom designs over the plain old “off the shelf” stuff.

We don’t just deliver the cookies, we have a full-service kitchen and do the baking for you.

Like my wife, I enjoy creating, and while we use different ingredients, the concept is the same. She will go above and beyond to find what she needs to fill a request, even if it means driving 30 miles to a specialized candy shop in the Dells because they had what she felt would be the perfect touch. I have spent hours searching, doing research, and building just the right combination of database query with an API call to fill in missing RxNorm codes for a medication feed. In both cases, we could have said “here is what we have” and moved on, but we didn’t. I’m also certain, in either case, the client would have accepted the final product, but that’s just not how we work.

We both have the desire to go above and beyond the ordinary and create something to be proud of.

If you want plain old off the shelf cookies, there are plenty of options on the shelf, but if you want them made your way, give Neato’s Bake Shoppe in Baraboo a call.

And if you want plain old off the shelf interfaces, there are other vendors. If you want a full service kitchen and a partner who will go above and beyond to see your project succeed, give MC Integration a call.

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