Healthcare Interoperability: Better Communication for Better Patient Care

Improving interoperability in healthcare will enhance services provided by clinicians, ultimately leading to better patient outcomes. Provides secure access and integration of electronic health data so that it can be used to improve health outcomes. By combining patient information from multiple trusted sources, healthcare providers and patients will have greater visibility into the accurate information that leads to better decisions, which in turn leads to better outcomes.

The importance of interoperability in healthcare has been clear for some time – and is only gaining importance in Australia and around the world.

Australia is constantly working towards open data policies that create an environment for interoperability, and the use of data assets as a national resource. However, despite the progress made, hurdles remain in the way of connected care.

These barriers are complex and varied but include how best to manage unstructured patient data, content, and how to integrate data from multiple EHR systems. Additionally, healthcare organizations face the challenge of integrating new solutions with existing software solutions or legacy systems as well as addressing the resistance of clinicians and staff to adopting new solutions in their existing workflows. While these barriers must be overcome, one thing is clear: Access to critical patient content must be improved if we are to meet tomorrow’s standards of patient care.

The Health Interoperability Results for ONC 2030 The survey found consensus among providers that interoperability is a top priority, with goals integrating patient data from within and outside the system and combining clinical and management data to support patient care and business applications. This is a view widely reflected in Australia as well as around the world.

The industry has supported this interest with significant investments: the global healthcare interoperability solutions market — at $2.9 billion in 2021 — is expected to reach $5.7 billion by 2026, according to Markets and Markets forecasts for Healthcare Interoperability Solutions.

The The State of Connected Care Survey 2022 by HIMSS Market Insights Details healthcare leaders are looking to implement interoperability improvements. The survey found that 67% of respondents are currently using, trying out, or planning to integrate imaging into point of care and workflows. While this is a step in the right direction, the core problem remains – information is often stored in silos and interoperability can only be achieved with enterprise solutions such as Vendor Neutral Archives (VNA) that can store data in its native format. Access to medical images and patient records, enhances the physician’s ability to make informed decisions to improve patient outcomes.

Why is interoperability in healthcare important?

Patient information, like all information in the global data world, is exploding. The driving force for this is the proliferation of capture devices (such as mobile phones) and the evolution of video and jpeg formats. The overall volume of patient data is growing in terms of overall volume, but it is also becoming more complex, diverse, and larger. More information can provide deeper insights, but it also creates challenges in absorbing, sorting, normalizing, classifying and analyzing it to make it useful in a timely manner.

This is especially true with images, where the object and metadata must be stored separately. It’s also important with AI, where some information has to be anonymised. As data grows, it becomes increasingly important to securely integrate and share health information to ensure complete information for care decisions.

HIMSS Market Insights survey respondents cited obstacles to connected care, including the integration of siled data into multiple electronic health records, unstructured content management and systems integration.

In healthcare, patient information is often fragmented across disciplines, locked within systems or inaccessible from within the platform. Electronic medical records or electronic medical records – the central repository of patient information – do not always handle unstructured information such as point-of-care pictures and doctor’s notes well. They may provide some connectivity but not store, manage, and retrieve. File types are often changed – storing as PDF files for example can lose their quality value. PACS imaging technology, software that typically supports only radiology or cardiology departments, connects physicians to proprietary workstations and requires manual steps to share imaging with hospitals and others, causing delays and interfering with valuable collaboration.

The need for connected care

Even within a single health system, employees may take time-consuming manual steps to extract and share information. The classic example is a “CD workflow” where the radiology department burns imaging studies onto CDs for delivery to another department. When access to information is difficult, this leads to inefficiency and inconvenience to patients and providers, while also causing delays in treatment.

Accessing unstructured information becomes an even greater challenge when a patient travels outside the home system. Imaging, reports, and test results made in one facility may be useful in informing decisions at another. In addition, today’s patients also want access to their medical information.

When information can be shared easily and securely, collaborators can also leverage a network of colleagues and cross-functional teams to deepen insights and share knowledge.

The ability to share information also avoids the expense and inconvenience of a patient having to repeat imaging or testing simply because their information cannot be shared with another health organization or system.

While the issue of secure access to a complete patient history is clear, the path to getting there is not always straightforward.

The future of healthcare interoperability solutions

Many healthcare organizations aim to centralize and simplify access to important content in clinical and administrative functions. Progress is being made, but it is not always a smooth ride – and the pursuit is not diminished. There are still hurdles as many departments, for example radiology, run their own application environment with data in silos. Moreover, there is often an emotional reluctance at the department level to depart from what exists today. The IT department needs executive support to move from the top down into the organization’s systems and to create a compelling case for change, with robust change management planning. Therefore, it is the internal resistance and distributed data that hinder this.

A recent HIMSS Market Insight survey showed that three-quarters of respondents expect to purchase a connected care platform. They also decide what information is most important to share and evaluate which technologies will have the greatest impact on efficiency.

Get the latest ideas on interoperability at the HIMSS22 APAC Conference and Exhibition

Healthcare interoperability will be a major focus in the future HIMSS22 APAC Conference and Exhibition In Bali in September this year. Now more than ever, healthcare organizations need access to all clinical content, including medical images to provide the best patient care.

Highland Healthcarerecognized as a leading company in Gartner Magic Quadrant for Content Services Platforms For the past 12 years, he returns to the HIMs22 APAC Conference and Exhibition in September. If you’re at the show, visit Team Hyland at booth 224!

At the event, Hyland will demonstrate how enterprise content services and a medical imaging platform are linking unstructured content, images, and medical data, and linking them for use by key stakeholders within their platforms. As a result, health systems and payers speed up business processes, reduce errors, streamline workflows, and improve visibility for decisions.

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