2017 Annual Report Member Spotlight: Center For Medical Interoperability
Written by: | Posted Nov 14, 2017

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Consider this: most of the time, a doctor seeing a person for the first time knows less about them than Google and Amazon can figure out from analyzing their purchasing and email history. It is an inconvenient reality for most of us, but that inconvenience can quickly morph into a life-threatening lack of knowledge when a person has a medical emergency anywhere outside the oversight of their primary care physician.

Unlike many other industries, the devices and systems that make up our current healthcare data infrastructure struggle to achieve secure and fluid exchange of information. It’s inefficient, costly and worst of all, it harms patients. The Center for Medical Interoperability (CMI), which opened in Nashville earlier this year, is working hard to change that.

CMI is a nonprofit cooperative research and development facility that is serious about making comprehensive, plug-and-play interoperability a reality. The Center provides a centralized, ven- dor-neutral context to perform the work healthcare needs to get medical devices, IT systems and interfaces to accelerate the seamless exchange of information to improve healthcare for all.


Interoperability becomes more important as the healthcare system focuses on delivering a continuum of care that is high-quality, connected, efficient, and patient-centered.

“We can’t innovate with targeted therapies without knowing the individual,” says Dr. Kelly Aldrich, chief clinical transformation officer at CMI. Under current conditions, there’s no certainty that the clinician has access to the patient’s medical, social, or genetic history, which makes the initial visit less productive than it could be.

CMI’s blueprint for how the pieces connect allows clinicians to specify data and resources they need to best care for patients while empowering health systems to demand interoperability from the vendor community. With a consistent blueprint, healthcare will be able focus innovation on delivering timely, accurate, and actionable clinical and cost information to patients and providers. Such “data liquidity” and flexibility would mean not only better care decisions but more efficient healthcare operations and lower associated costs.


With the goal of achieving a healthcare environment where the person is a “known” entity, the Center has created an engineering lab where all members of the healthcare ecosystem can work together to develop universal architectures, inter- faces and specifications that liberate all health IT data across time and space. The lab certifies de- vices and software that meet the Center’s technical specifications, and it also offers clinicians the ability to explore the impact of technologies to ensure solutions are safe, useful and satisfying for patients and their care teams. With so many Music City-based healthcare systems and partner organizations interested in the endless applications of interoperability and data liquidity, pilot projects and demonstrations are easier to launch than any- where else.

When CMI began exploring where to set up shop, President and CEO Ed Cantwell said, “It came down to the culture. We wanted to be in the center of operational excellence for healthcare, and Nashville is certainly that. The culture of collaboration, the leadership in healthcare innovation, and the commitment to our mission make Nashville an ideal home for the Center. We wanted to be in a place where we can transform not just the price of healthcare but the number of lives improved.”


CMI will focus on cybersecurity, connecting all devices and IT systems, and creation of the next generation medical interoperability platform architecture. “We want to be recognized as an organization that is not just talking about the problem but as one that is doing the real work of collaborating, testing, and building,” says Cantwell. “We are guided by our vision of accelerating the seam- less exchange of information to improve health- care for all and will remain vigilant in keeping the individual at the forefront of care.”