INTELLIGENCE IN ACTION

Earthquakes & Pandemics: Advancing Interoperability When the World Falls Apart

“To improve the health of people and populations, our information systems, devices and apps must speak the same language,” says Sam Lambson, Vice President of Interoperability at Oracle Cerner, whose point was underscored by the twin challenges of an earthquake and the COVID-19 pandemic.

March 18, 2020, Salt Lake City:

The pandemic had just begun. Sam Lambson and his colleagues put in a tremendous amount of time and effort to stand up InterMountain Healthcare’s COVID-19 response. “We were two days in,” Lambson says on our podcast. They had read the playbook on how hospitals build command centers. They’d outfitted the room with wall monitors and ventilators, data analytics and reports. Then suddenly, Lambson says, “everybody’s house is shaking.”

It was a major 5.7-magnitude earthquake—as if the pandemic wasn’t enough.

“We couldn’t even stay in our house,” Lambson says. “It’s very old and we were worried about structural damage. And a couple of our clinics had walls cracked and ceilings fallen.” Now, Lambson was in the COVID-19 command center, solving earthquake problems.

This was one of many life-changing experiences that have informed Lambson’s professional outlook and his approach to advancing interoperability as an executive at Oracle Cerner, which Lambson describes in detail on the latest episode of our podcast. (Another was Lambson’s first-ever airplane flight—to Hong Kong.)

Lambson’s conviction is that advancing interoperability will help make care more affordable, accessible and better coordinated, and he can point to specific moments in his life that led to this conviction: Hong Kong, COVID-19, the earthquake—and his wife rushed to the ER with a pulmonary embolism. Her providers had wanted a CT scan, but Lambson already had one in hand. A second scan would’ve meant unnecessary time and expense.

“We’re not where we need to be,” Lambson says of interoperability. “And it’s really the driving force I get up every morning to try to fix.” And the fix is supporting patients (and providers) with a complete record of information. “At the end of the day, I’m helping people help others. And it does bring me a lot of satisfaction.”

“It felt like the world was literally falling apart,” Sam Lambson says of the earthquake and pandemic. Advancing interoperability can help ensure that our systems work together—so when the worst happens, patient care doesn’t miss a beat.

Hear Lambson’s story on this episode of our podcast and be sure to subscribe on your favorite streaming platform to catch future episodes.

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