The Path to Interoperable EHR Systems

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Nick Drosos is Co-Founder and COO of Curie, a healthtech company based out of Cleveland, OH that has made groundbreaking innovations in EHR interoperability. He spoke with Becker's August 30th about industry trends, the future of healthcare, and Curie’s cutting-edge software that allows different EHRs to communicate with one another.

Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Question: What are the current trends that you’re seeing in the health IT space?

Nick Drosos: The biggest trend is that patients are becoming “the boss” and hospitals are trying to catch up to their modern expectations. Consumers in every industry expect highly personalized and connected digital systems that anticipate their needs. Hospitals are starting to address this by bringing in retail industry executives to help reimagine their technology with a “customer driven” focus. This is playing out in an industry known for lagging behind technically, with high competition amongst EHR providers and a rapidly growing startup scene focused on wearable devices. Together it’s created the perfect storm; a vision of AI advancements working towards holistic preventive medicine. The problem is that without the means to connect any of this data together, we’re going to remain at a standstill.  

Q: Is true system interoperability in healthcare possible?

ND: The short answer is yes, it’s possible. But to achieve this, the problem needs to be looked at realistically, from all angles. Hospitals across the country have implemented highly customized EHRs and embedded them into their daily operations. Hospitals are starting to address this by bringing in retail industry executives to help reimagine their technology with a “customer driven” focus. After investing billions of dollars and countless hours into these systems, hospitals are not going to just abandon them. The path to reaching true interoperability lies in finding a way to enhance the systems already in place. We need to embrace the new communication standards of FHIR, find a way to move our systems to the cloud, and create new universal highways to exchange patient information.

Q: Sounds like there is still a long road ahead. Why should hospital executives prioritize this work?

ND: Because the potential impact of synchronized patient databases is too big to ignore, both for patients and hospital organizations. Around 80,000 patients die annually due to complications from misdiagnosis, and 71% of those errors occur in emergency room systems. Having immediate access to a patient’s full medical record would directly impact a doctor’s decision-making ability and ultimately save lives.

On the hospital side, physician burnout due to tracking down and sending patient information is a major pain point. Imagine the lighter load for doctors and nurses when administrative tasks are sorted by machine learning rather than people.

Having access to usable data is how we unlock the door to today’s “future vision” of healthcare. With complete patient records, R&D partnerships can pave the way for the next generation of innovation.

Q: Tell us about Curie and what your team is working on.

ND: We are primarily a tech company, with people coming from tech backgrounds using their knowledge to solve healthcare problems. Our development team has spent the last year working on a back-end middleware that sits on top of EHRs to send patient records across hospitals and departments automatically. It has not only made it possible to share data within a single hospital network, but even across multiple networks with different EHRs. The platform requires no training and no interaction from medical professionals whatsoever. It is not restrictive by hospital location or the size of your network. It simply enables EHRs to work in the way they were intended.

Q: What impact do you hope that Curie has on the healthcare industry?

ND: The future of healthcare is exciting. Our society has dreamed up a world where patients are treated holistically from birth to geriatric care. Where AI and robotics are engrained in day-to-day healthcare operations, allowing doctors and nurses to focus only on the most critical tasks. A world where treatment plans are highly personalized, and location does not preclude you from the best care. If Curie could play even a small part in facilitating this future, we’d be incredibly proud.

To learn more about Nick Drosos and Curie visit https://www.curietech.co/

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