Interoperability: What users can expect and organizations can deliver

By Mike McAfee, Allscripts AVP Population Health Solutions Management - Print  | 

When Apple released the first iPhone in 2008, consumers were introduced to interoperability.

Many patients and clinicians, as users, are now accustomed to receiving notifications for all personal information — such as email, friend requests and photo sharing — coalescing into a singular experience they can access and interact with for whatever needs they have.

Consumers have since demanded the same for all interactions, including those in healthcare. This demand for interoperability has forced the healthcare industry to work toward matching the experiences other industries offer.

Healthcare users’ expectations and challenges

I’ve spent 20 years working in health IT, mainly focusing on providing information to the right point of need. Traditionally, this has involved creating processes that deliver orders, documents and discharges to the right places and from one care situation to another. But our expectations for information exchange are often not met.

As patients, clinicians and IT leaders, we want care monitoring driven for us. Often, though, patients are their own interoperability solutions. Clinicians have access to many documents created externally, but they may not contain the information needed to deliver on what patients expect. Much of the work falls on patients or their caretakers to be their own advocates and determine the best place to go for care, then ensure when they arrive the provider knows all the details of their health situation.

Another challenge is that patients and clinicians expect information to not only be accessible, but available in a closed loop. Healthcare providers want to make sure as patients take steps that operate in conjunction with their past history as well as their future. This is the level of process interoperability that organizations want to deliver.  

Process interoperability is already in its infancy, and the raw tools to build on it already exist. Data sharing is possible and can be enabled. The next steps will be to leverage those existing foundations, activate the ability for content creators — like EHRs, care navigation systems, analytics and genomics data —  to come together in a way that turns data into knowledge.

The foundations for interoperability exist

In existing systems, content creation platforms are still siloed, delivering information only into themselves. The nirvana we want to achieve is to deliver information across them, creating true timelines of care. This achievement would enable each decision maker in the continuum, no matter which system, vendor or organization, to follow the same standards of care, and develop and maintain a single, strong patient care pathway, no matter where the patient goes.

The technology to achieve this already exists. The frameworks are built, and the abilities are there. However, what health organizations are looking to provide goes beyond the present capabilities of interoperability. Vendors are rarely mentioned as a part of this process, but they have a lot of this knowledge.  

Interoperability across the organization

It’s an exciting time in the healthcare marketplace, as many different facets — personalized medicine, pharmaceutical companies, payers and clinicians — unite across the board. These entities are coming together, because everybody has a need for the latest and greatest technologies, both outside and inside the healthcare space. They see the advancements available in healthcare and are ready to devour them. Frameworks like Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources enables data to go from one point to another. Clinical Decision Support Hooks can actively direct patient care or workflow, helping a user or clinician to ask at each step, “What am I doing now?” and give the option to stop or recommend a different approach.

We’ve almost reached a tipping point in tech and interoperability, where organizations will start to leverage advancements to deliver in a new age of healthcare ecosystem. They must change to deliver these advancements, ensuring that behind-the-scenes platforms are capturing key information and delivering on the exact advancements and efficiencies they want to drive across their ecosystems. To deliver on the interoperability expectations both providers and patients have in other areas of their lives, organizations need to provide light footprint, high impact notifications and easy documentation, while avoiding spending time or money on duplicative tasks. Focusing on these changes will build on the technology that exists and deliver the interoperable experience users have grown to expect in the past decade.

 

Interoperability: What users can expect and organizations can deliver
By Mike McAfee, Allscripts AVP Population Health Solutions Management
When Apple released the first iPhone in 2008, consumers were introduced to interoperability.
Many patients and clinicians, as users, are now accustomed to receiving notifications for all personal information — such as email, friend requests and photo sharing — coalescing into a singular experience they can access and interact with for whatever needs they have.
Consumers have since demanded the same for all interactions, including those in healthcare. This demand for interoperability has forced the healthcare industry to work toward matching the experiences other industries offer.
Healthcare users’ expectations and challenges
I’ve spent 20 years working in health IT, mainly focusing on providing information to the right point of need. Traditionally, this has involved creating processes that deliver orders, documents and discharges to the right places and from one care situation to another. But our expectations for information exchange are often not met.
As patients, clinicians and IT leaders, we want care monitoring driven for us. Often, though, patients are their own interoperability solutions. Clinicians have access to many documents created externally, but they may not contain the information needed to deliver on what patients expect. Much of the work falls on patients or their caretakers to be their own advocates and determine the best place to go for care, then ensure when they arrive the provider knows all the details of their health situation.
Another challenge is that patients and clinicians expect information to not only be accessible, but available in a closed loop. Healthcare providers want to make sure as patients take steps that operate in conjunction with their past history as well as their future. This is the level of process interoperability that organizations want to deliver.
Process interoperability is already in its infancy, and the raw tools to build on it already exist. Data sharing is possible and can be enabled. The next steps will be to leverage those existing foundations, activate the ability for content creators — like EHRs, care navigation systems, analytics and genomics data — to come together in a way that turns data into knowledge.
The foundations for interoperability exist
In existing systems, content creation platforms are still siloed, delivering information only into themselves. The nirvana we want to achieve is to deliver information across them, creating true timelines of care. This achievement would enable each decision maker in the continuum, no matter which system, vendor or organization, to follow the same standards of care, and develop and maintain a single, strong patient care pathway, no matter where the patient goes.
The technology to achieve this already exists. The frameworks are built, and the abilities are there. However, what health organizations are looking to provide goes beyond the present capabilities of interoperability. Vendors are rarely mentioned as a part of this process, but they have a lot of this knowledge.
Interoperability across the organization
It’s an exciting time in the healthcare marketplace, as many different facets — personalized medicine, pharmaceutical companies, payers and clinicians — unite across the board. These entities are coming together, because everybody has a need for the latest and greatest technologies, both outside and inside the healthcare space. They see the advancements available in healthcare and are ready to devour them. Frameworks like Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources enables data to go from one point to another. Clinical Decision Support Hooks can actively direct patient care or workflow, helping a user or clinician to ask at each step, “What am I doing now?” and give the option to stop or recommend a different approach.
We’ve almost reached a tipping point in tech and interoperability, where organizations will start to leverage advancements to deliver in a new age of healthcare ecosystem. They must change to deliver these advancements, ensuring that behind-the-scenes platforms are capturing key information and delivering on the exact advancements and efficiencies they want to drive across their ecosystems. To deliver on the interoperability expectations both providers and patients have in other areas of their lives, organizations need to provide light footprint, high impact notifications and easy documentation, while avoiding spending time or money on duplicative tasks. Focusing on these changes will build on the technology that exists and deliver the interoperable experience users have grown to expect in the past decade.

 

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