Rick Rubin on the value of State of Reform

Rick Rubin is the CEO of OneHealthPort, a health information intermediary for the Pacific Northwest.  Recently, he shared his thoughts with us about the value of State of Reform to him and the community he serves.  We wanted to share Rick’s thought with you about how State of Reform provides value to the work we are doing together in health care.  Share your thoughts with us about the value of State of Reform and we’ll post them here too.



As I was reading some of your recent summary insights, I reflected on the role State of Reform plays and how that relates to other health information exchange that occurs in our community.  As you know, OneHealthPort is a health information intermediary.  We earn our living by helping organizations in the health services community to exchange information with each other.

If we go back a few years, the common complaints in our industry were the lack of information, the difficulty in converting data to knowledge and how complex and costly it was to get even basic transactions from point A to point B, let alone, point C, D, and E.  Today, some of these concerns still exist, despite the progress being made, health information exchange is still too complex and costly and we are still far away from meeting all the needs of those who receive, deliver and pay for health services.  However, of late, we are starting to hear a different complaint, particularly from front-line caregivers.  That complaint is about too many channels rather than too few and too much data rather than too little.  I’ve heard from a number of people in a number of ways something that sounds like – “please don’t send me to more places, to see more data, please help me get the right data, at the right time in the way that is most convenient for me.”  To some degree, these incredibly busy people with access to multiple devices are saying “less is more.”

In this context, I wanted to thank you and your colleagues for the work you do with State of Reform.  To me, SOR is also an information intermediary.  In different ways than we do, you connect a very disparate group of individuals and organizations.  Like us and others in our business, you use multiple channels – email, conferences, in-depth analysis, video, etc.  I think however, you do a better job than many of us do gratifying that increasingly common request for the “the right information” rather than just more information.  It is very helpful to me to be able to read your “5 Things,” get a quick overview and then dig deeper to find what for me, on that day is the “right information.”  Similarly, at your conferences, I’m always impressed by how much diversity you offer so that many different people with different needs can find that “right information.”

There are two other elements that I always appreciate about SOR.  First, you have found a nice sweet spot between unbiased and provocative.  Today, it is challenging to share information with a “twist” or an opinion without promptly being categorized as a partisan.  However, putting out information, particularly abstracted information, without any context and at least a little color, makes it hard to have an impact and draw readers.  I admire and enjoy your editorial sense of where the balance lies and how to be interesting without grinding an axe.

Second, another important role for an information intermediary, and it’s an optional one, is to try and create some sense of community among information trading partners.  Sometimes it is easier for a business to just focus on the technology and the volumes of data moved, and not bother with the messiness that comes from engaging with real human beings ‘offline.”  Yet, in my experience, it is the human relationships that matter most and it is relationships that make it possible to solve shared problems.  And, in a “many-to-many” industry like ours, most of the problems that matter are hard to solve unilaterally and require some degree of communication and collaboration.

I think SOR has done a great job of bringing people together in different places, to have respectful dialogue, consider other viewpoints and have some time to just chat.  Amongst all the data flying around, and all the devices calling our names, all the time, those human interludes are very refreshing.  Thanks for helping make so many useful connections over the years.


Rick Rubin
President & CEO