Three Reasons Why Interoperability and Centralization of Data Is a Must for the Healthcare Industry

by | Feb 9, 2022 | Blog

Today’s patient journey looks very different from several years ago. 

Technology advancements and the continuous medical research taking place across the globe have resulted in better healthcare treatments and made them more widely available. But there’s a downside to these breakthroughs.  Patients now have to make more stops between diagnosis and treatment than ever before.  They might attend a physician’s office, diagnostic imaging center, blood testing labs, hospital, outpatient rehab therapist, etc before completing their treatment. Each point in the healthcare process generates a patient’s health record that becomes an essential part of a patient’s healthcare file. . This data must be accessible and exchangeable throughout their journey to achieve the best results.

Interoperability is the ability of information systems, devices, and applications (systems) to provide timely and seamless portability of information and optimize the health of individuals and populations globally, through access, exchange, and integration of data in a coordinated manner within and across organizational, regional, and national boundaries. The architectures, applications interfaces, and health data exchange standards enable data to be accessed and shared appropriately and securely across the full spectrum of care, with all stakeholders involved, including the patient.

For example, quick decisions are necessary when taking a patient with COVID-19 from primary care to emergency care, and laboratory results must also be tracked. With the help of centralized shared data such as patients’ health history or access to quick medical test results, healthcare providers can take quick and effective decisions that will help the patient.

History of Interoperability

It was 13 years ago, in 2009, that the HITECH Act was introduced, which is an instrumental step toward interoperability in healthcare. 

Since this act, , the US healthcare industry has been seeking interoperability as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). Under the HITECH Act, electronic health records (EHRs) were encouraged to be adopted to improve patient safety, quality, and efficiency.

Further, in 2012, the Health Level Seven (HL7) Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard was initiated. The FHIR standard was developed for quicker, easier, and better methods of transferring healthcare data. With FHIR, healthcare information could be securely exchanged between different computer systems, even if the systems had different data storage methods.

Although interoperability in healthcare has been around since 2009, its popularity and importance have accelerated in the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Providers have used telehealth and tracked supplies & lab results electronically for years but on a limited scale. However, this adoption was accelerated by the pandemic. Therefore, any technology that helps reduce human contact or track Covid-19 data went through rapid evolution and change.

The goal of Interoperability

  • Healthcare providers – Health information exchange aims to have all the valuable information about a patient at their fingertips when making clinical decisions. 
  • Patients – Having one centralized place where patients can view their health information and interact with all providers.

Top three benefits of interoperability in healthcare 

  1. Ensures patient data security while data sharing:

Health data should be available to patients as they move from provider to provider.  The critical component of interoperability is ensuring secure health data sharing. Data can be accessed by several providers to improve patient care but presents the risk of data being compromised. Additionally, it can be challenging for healthcare organizations to track the location of protected health information (PHI) when data is entered into systems without intercommunication – a significant setback when time counts. By placing PHI into a secure, interoperable system, organizations can better understand where their data resides and who has access to it, ensuring patient data safety and privacy. Moreover, interoperability allows for more efficient management of patient information because it reduces duplication of effort of entering information into multiple platforms. A process that involves less data handling and paper is more secure.

  1. Facilitates telehealth:

To cope with on-demand health challenges imposed by COVID-19 and reduce healthcare costs, telehealth is critical among all types of healthcare delivery. Healthcare providers faced difficulty managing patients’ data within the EHR system during the pandemic when patients switched to telehealth to access care. During this time, they realized the importance of interoperability and had to integrate EHRs with their telehealth solutions. 

By providing secure access to the right information at the right time, interoperability offers a giant leap in standardized care. The timely access to health data allows providers to address patients according to their needs, ensuring efficiency in the care process. Through seamless integration of telemedicine with other digital devices, the care delivery model is enhanced by real-time data management during ongoing virtual consultations. Organizations can easily integrate services using new interoperability specifications such as SMART on FHIR, which builds on existing standards for patient data exchange and imaging like HL7. 

  1. Eliminate manual errors

A data sprawl across disparate systems leads to human error when information must be re-entered to assemble the data for studying diagnosis or cure. A serious illness – or even just a simple diagnosis that’s missed because of incorrect information – can significantly impact a patient’s quality of life. Also, data entry errors are the top cause of duplicate medical records, which affects the accuracy of patient matching. Errors can lead to duplicate test orders and other inefficiencies that cost the healthcare system time and money.

Automating the data entry process with interoperable systems helps hospitals and other healthcare facilities reduce errors, resulting in better care for patients and more reliability for the institutions.   As a result, interoperable systems can reduce time-consuming and redundant tasks since the EHR/EMR and analytics software can automatically collect and process information from other systems.  

Cloud Computing Improves Healthcare Data Interoperability

The adoption rate of cloud computing in other industries has been unprecedented for various reasons. A significant factor influencing this is improved interoperability. Considering these benefits, health care is beginning to migrate towards cloud computing. 

Cloud computing has made it easier for organizations to move and secure data consistently. Cloud computing relies on application programming interfaces (APIs) to ensure interoperability. These APIs offer several advantages for EHRs. Most importantly, unlike traditional interfaces, cloud APIs today frequently adhere to open standards and are platform-neutral. Data pipelines built on cloud environments allow companies to standardize their data into an industry-standard format like FHIR and make it available securely to anyone who needs it – payers, providers, or even patients themselves. 

Take the first step toward better healthcare data interoperability with Data Dynamics-Migrate your data into Microsoft Azure at zero cost! 

We are all aware that the first and most challenging step in cloud migrations is moving on-premises data into the cloud. Microsoft has made the journey more effortless than ever before by creating the Azure File Migration Program. By sponsoring the use of Data Dynamics’ StorageX to migrate data into Microsoft Azure, organizations can now migrate their data into Azure at zero additional cost to the customer and no separate migration licensing. StorageX is Data Dynamics’ leading unstructured data management solution that delivers policy-based data management with no vendor lock-in.  Through this program, Microsoft and Data Dynamics aim to help organizations address some of their most critical challenges in the cloud migration lifecycle, such as cost, speed, talent, and risk. 

Benefits:

  • Migration into Azure at no software cost to end customers.
  • Automated, policy-based data migration from heterogeneous storage resources into Microsoft Azure cloud.
  • Comprehensive Azure file storage endpoint support
  • Automated access control and file security management.
  • 3X faster migrations, 10X more productivity, and lower risk
  • Customers’ data growth in Azure applies to their Microsoft Azure Commit to Consume (MACC)

What sets Data Dynamics further apart is using a single software data management platform for mobility, analytics, security, and compliance that is critical to ensure an intelligent, efficient, and secure cloud migration journey.Learn more about the Azure File Migration Program by joining our latest free webinar, ‘Migrate your data to Azure like a boss with StorageX at Zero Cost’ on 24th February 2022 at 11:00 AM EST. To catch up with our team of experts, visit www.datadynamicsinc.com/microsoft/ or write to us at solutions@datdyn.com.

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