Improving interoperability in healthcare will improve the services provided by clinicians, ultimately leading to better patient outcomes. It provides secure access and integration of electronic health data so it can be used to optimize health outcomes. By bringing together patient information from multiple trusted sources, healthcare providers and patients will have greater visibility into accurate information that leads to better decisions, which in turn lead to better outcomes.
The importance of interoperability in healthcare has been clear for some time – and only growing in importance in Australia and around the world.
Australia is continuously working towards open data policies that create an environment for interoperability and use of data assets as a national resource. However, although progress has been made, there are still obstacles in the way of connected care.
These barriers are complex and varied, but include how best to manage unstructured patient data and content and how to integrate data from multiple EHR systems. Additionally, healthcare organizations face the challenge of integrating new solutions into existing software solutions or legacy systems, as well as resistance from clinicians and staff to adopting new solutions into workflows. existing work. While these hurdles must be overcome, one thing is clear: Access to patient-critical content must be improved if we are to meet the standards of patient care of tomorrow.
The The ONC Health Interoperability Outcomes 2030 survey found consensus among providers that interoperability is a top priority, with goals to integrate patient data from inside and outside the system and combine clinical and administrative data to support patient care and business applications. It is a view that is widely reflected in Australia as well as around the world.
The industry has backed this interest with significant investments: the global market for healthcare interoperability solutions – at $2.9 billion in 2021 – is expected to reach $5.7 billion by 2026, according to Markets and Markets forecast for Healthcare interoperability solutions.
The The 2022 State of Connected Care Survey conducted by HIMSS Market Insights indicates that healthcare leaders are looking to implement interoperability improvements. The survey revealed that 67% of respondents are using, piloting, or planning to integrate point-of-care imaging and workflows. While this is a step in the right direction, the fundamental 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 improves clinicians’ ability to make informed decisions for better patient outcomes.
Why is interoperability in healthcare important?
Patient information, like all information in the global data sphere, is exploding. The driving force behind this is the proliferation of capture devices (like cell phones) and the sophistication of video and jpeg formats. The total volume of patient data is growing in terms of total volume, but it is also becoming more complex, diverse and larger. More information can provide deeper insights, but it also creates challenges to safely ingest, sort, standardize, categorize, and analyze it to make it useful in a timely manner.
This is especially true with images, where the object and metadata must be stored separately. This is also critical with AI, where some information must be anonymized. As data increases, so does the importance of securely integrating and exchanging health information to ensure comprehensive information for care decisions.
Respondents to the HIMSS Market Insights survey cited barriers to connected care, including siled data integration across multiple EHRs, unstructured content management, and system integrations.
In healthcare, patient information is often fragmented across specialties, locked up in systems, or inaccessible from a central system. EMRs or EHRs – considered the central storage of patient information – do not always properly handle unstructured information such as point-of-care medical images and clinician notes. They can provide some connection but not store, manage and retrieve. Often, file types are changed – storing in PDF format, for example, can lead to loss of its qualitative value. PACS imaging technology, software that typically only supports radiology or cardiology departments, connects clinicians to proprietary workstations and requires manual steps to share imaging with hospitals and others, which which causes delays and interferes with valuable collaboration.
The need for connected care
Even within the same health system, staff can take manual and time-consuming steps to extract and share information. A classic example is the “CD workflow” where radiology burns imaging studies to CDs for delivery to another department. When information is difficult to access, it creates inefficiency and inconvenience for patients and providers while creating delays in treatment.
Accessing unstructured information becomes an even greater challenge when a patient moves outside of their home system. Imaging, reports, and test results from one facility can be instrumental 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, employees can also tap into a network of colleagues and cross-functional teams to deepen their knowledge 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 organization or healthcare system.
While the case for secure access to a more complete patient record is clear, the path to getting there is not always straightforward.
The future of healthcare interoperability solutions
Many healthcare organizations aim to centralize and streamline access to important content across clinical and administrative functions. Progress is being made, but it’s not always a smooth journey – and the quest isn’t diminishing. Obstacles remain, many departments, for example radiology, manage their own application environment with data housed in silos. Additionally, there is often an emotional reluctance at the departmental level to move away from what is in place today. IT needs executive support for a top-down transition to enterprise systems and to make a compelling case for change, with strong change management planning. Therefore, it is the internal resistance and the distributed data that delays this.
The recent HIMSS Market Insight survey shows that three-quarters of respondents plan to purchase a connected care platform. They also decide what information is most important to exchange and assess which technologies will have a significant impact on efficiency.
Get the latest interoperability insights at the HIMSS22 APAC Conference and Expo
Healthcare interoperability will be at the heart of the next HIMSS22 APAC Conference and Exhibition in Bali in September. Now more than ever, healthcare organizations need access to all clinical content, including medical images, to provide the best patient care.
Hyland Healthrecognized as a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Content Services Platforms for 12 years, returns to the HIMsS22 APAC conference and exhibition in September. If you’re at the show, visit the Hyland team at booth 224!
At the event, Hyland will demonstrate how an enterprise content and medical imaging services platform connects unstructured content, images and medical data, linking them for use by key stakeholders in the within their core systems. As a result, healthcare systems and payers speed up business processes, reduce errors, streamline workflows, and improve visibility for decisions.
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