Monday, November 29, 2010

What is a Unicorn?

When I was much younger and extending into my early 20’s, I loved the concept of and collected Unicorns. While I still love the concept of Unicorns, I no longer collect them, so you can imagine my surprise to hear from one of the CareSpark stakeholders that I was leading and helping to build the region’s Unicorn
During the last CareSpark Board meeting, a CIO from one of the hospital systems in the region mentioned that he could share his vision of a Unicorn to support the needs of his providers for Health information exchange (HIE). He went onto mention that an HIE is like a Unicorn…we all know what we think one should look like, but who’s to say my unicorn looks like your unicorn. What does your Unicorn look like?  
I would like to think my Unicorn would be golden and sparkly…something like this…  
“Now I will believe that there are unicorns…” William Shakespeare – The Tempest

As the common fare of little girls' fantasies, the origin in histories becomes quite ironic. In thinking about this blog topic, I thought it was interesting to correlate that the Unicorn is known for the healing power in it’s horn.  A fabulous beast born of man’s imagination, the unicorn form and function are as variable as the minds and religions of mankind;  but whatever its shape – and it has been described as an ox, ram, goat, bull, antelope, wild ass, horse,  rhinoceros, serpent or fish, - a one-horned beast was always a symbol of supreme power.

In the west, the unicorn was first mentioned in 398 BC by Ctesias, a Greek physician and historian of Persia and India.  He traveled to the Persian court and remained there working as a physician for 17 years under two rulers.  

Why did they go away, do you think? "Who knows? Times change –especially in health care today. Would you call this age a good one for unicorns?"  

For those of you who may not be aware yet, I stepped in as Interim CEO for CareSpark on September 30, 2010. One of my deliverables during my tenure will be to develop a sustainable business plan and I have spent the past several weeks helping to shepherd and lead CareSpark toward the evolution necessary to sustain them into the future and reduce the dependency on federal funding. 

Out of the 234 HIEs surveyed by the eHealth Initiative for 2010 only 18 are operational, not dependent on federal funding, and have broken even through operational revenue only. To date, CareSpark has been dependent on federal funding business plan will begin to wean them from the dependencies over the next several years with the support of the community and state.

In addition to the Carespark business plan, I have the pleasure of working with the State of TN and the state designated entity (HIP TN) to develop their sustainability plan and roll out the backbone connecting the various HIEs across the state beginning in 2011. 


At the beginning of this week, after the Thanksgiving holidays, I have much to give thanks for reflecting back over the past two years of business after starting Serendipity Health. I am doing what I set out to do and am working full time to help improve the quality of health care in my region and across the state. CareSpark has always had a place in my heart having followed the standards based approach for building the HIE which now has 33 signed data sharing agreements from providers in the region. Over the coming years, I look forward to working with health care provides to deploy connected health care, thus providing actionable information at the point of care.As the cartoon below depicts, I am pleading for all providers to give generously! 

No comments:

Post a Comment