Strategies to Improve Interoperability in Healthcare

Improve Interoperability in Healthcare

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“Interoperability promises a superhighway of data, but some hospitals are stuck in the parking lot.” (Burril , 2019).

Interoperability impact in healthcare delivery

In value-based healthcare, more and more clinicians are using a digital domain to effectively share patient information amongst each other. With the right tools and technology, it is easy, fast, and secure. Interoperability simply means sharing patient data amongst health systems. This has become the foundation in creating an effective plan for patient care delivery. Information such as lab results, referrals, precautions, etc are needed right away in order to understand the patient and their needs better thus impacting the value of care. 

Often times these tests are performed at different facilities who tabulate this information in to their own Electronic Health Record (EHR).  However, if a patient is in the emergency room (or any other medical facility), the lab EHR may not be readily available. For some patients, any delay harms outcomes and risks a setback for the patient. In fact, reduction in medical errors, exchange of important data, and increases in the patient’s life expectancy are the main positive benefits of interoperability.

Challenges to achieving healthcare interoperability

A lingering challenge on the hospital front is sharing data amongst their platforms before they can even share it with their patients. Communication via fax, telephone, and email are still being used in many healthcare settings to gain and deliver information with all of the inherent limitations of these communication modes. Relying on fax, phone, and email often results in a lag in the delivery of care, multiple touches to verify completeness and clarity of information, and frustration with one-way asynchronous efforts to communicate when people are unavailable via phone. To improve interoperability in healthcare, Hucu.ai is a secure texting app that provides a platform of easy messaging to seamlessly exchange information among the patient’s healthcare teams so that everyone is on the same page, at the same time, accessing the same information.

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On the legislative level, advancements are being required to improve interoperability in healthcare. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Health and Human Services (HHS) have proposed a rule to the federal government intending to “improve access to, and the quality of, information that Americans need to make informed health care decisions, including data about health care prices and outcomes, while minimizing reporting burdens on the affected plans, health care providers, or payers.” If approved as proposed, the 3 main highlights will be:

1 - Integration of technology in accessing patient records

Patients will have the ability to access all of their health records via an application programming interface (API). This will enable them better manage their healthcare. Patients will know their diagnosis, medications, billing, etc. They won’t have to call in a doctor’s office to reach their doctor. With the API, all of that can streamlined digitally. 

2 - Improved interoperability amongst clinicians

Healthcare providers, clinicians and hospitals are ensured to have access to the patient records regardless of where they’ve received medical care. Better interoperability will reduce the burden on healthcare providers. Also, this will reduce any potential medical errors. Healthcare physicians are busy and on-the-go, hence, it is important to have current data to make decisions in a timely manner. 

3 - Easier access to payment information

Through API software, entities that pay for healthcare would have an easier access to their payment information from different providers. This change will also lead to providing access to a given plan’s network that is easy to understand and would lead to patients more easily identifying providers that are a better fit for their needs.

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These proposals are some examples of improving interoperability in healthcare. Organizations are also working on ways to provide better healthcare delivery to patients. 

Solutions to increase interoperability

The healthcare industry is constantly evolving. Various healthcare systems are experimenting with strategies to implement within their network. The Wall Street Journal provides 4 strategies that hospitals and health systems could consider:

1 - Resolve internal data issues.

Healthcare systems should run an internal evaluation for their digital system regularly to identify the data elements that need to be shared and then standardize a method that can be shared across their system. By doing so will also provide trends and patterns of the organization that can be used for comparison. 

2 - Work with vendors and physicians to improve EHR usability and interoperability.

EHRs represent the paper charts of the patients and are used for billing purposes. They are great to have, however, the problem lies in multiple EHRs used by different healthcare providers for an individual patient NOT connecting with one other. For example, a patient’s lab results from a month ago might be available but not the results from a week ago due to different sites of care and different EHRs. This creates potential confusion, inaccuracies, and delays in the delivery of care. 

3 - Relinquish control of data.

Healthcare providers should not hold back any data. It should all be available to the patient. This creates transparency in the clinician-patient relationship. 

4 - Build Trust.

 “Data security and privacy should be at the center of the evolution toward interoperability.” (WSJ, 2019). Healthcare systems and health plans need to trust each other in sharing information. Nowadays health data is being generated via apps, wearable devices, at home medical devices, etc rather than at a doctor’s office. Therefore, interoperability is important.

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In the midst of a complex healthcare ecosystem, Hucu.ai’s innovative platform is committed to minimizing traditional healthcare boundaries. Our HIPAA compliant, Free Hipaa Compliant Messaging App is created to assist busy clinicians. Features such as sending images and attachments, and real time messages to the different healthcare teams makes it a smoother process in providing efficient and effective care to the patient.Hucu eliminates the need to fax, email, and phone by bringing clinicians together on a simple, easy to use communication network. 

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