The healthcare sector has undergone radical change in recent years and is only set to grow. Healthcare providers have begun to embrace digital technologies, such as Electronic Health Records (EHRs), telehealth and remote patient monitoring, to improve patient care and outcomes.
Digital health strategies will only become more complex and encompassing, especially as 71% of Australians agree that giving healthcare providers access to a unified set of their data would improve communication and collaboration with their healthcare providers.
In an effort to meet these expectations, the NSW government developed the single digital patient record (SDPR) initiative to ensure that healthcare organisations only need to access one record when checking on any patient.
How many systems do healthcare providers currently use?
When the Australian Government released My Health Record, we glimpsed the convenience provided by digital health records that follow us between healthcare practices when we need treatment or advice.
Yet, healthcare providers still grapple with multiple digital systems in addition to digital health records, including Patient Administration Systems (PAS), Practice Management Systems (PMS) and Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS). These platforms range from small to large-scale, and with not all of them communicating, it becomes difficult to keep track of the information and data they contain. One system may be great for healthcare scheduling, while another could be best suited for tracking clinical outcomes.
No matter the size or purpose, the plethora of patient record systems can overwhelm healthcare workers and organisations. For this reason, the NSW Government rolled out the SDPR initiative with the ongoing goal of creating single healthcare records by integrating the healthcare information of people statewide.
What would be the outcomes of single patient records?
As population numbers and life expectancy increase, healthcare systems worldwide have become burdened with an influx of patients needing care. As such, making patient records interoperable has become an essential tool for delivering the best possible care. Implementing digital health interoperability will positively impact patient outcomes, from improved access to medical information and better quality care to reduced delays and errors.
Some of the key benefits include:
- A complete picture of a patient’s health: When different systems, platforms and software interoperate to share critical medical data, healthcare professionals can identify potential problems early on and take swift action when needed. These capabilities can be invaluable for catching difficult or rare diseases before it is too late.
- Improve collaboration between healthcare providers: Increased interoperability means that patients do not need to repeat tests or explain their history each time they visit a new provider – making visits faster and more efficient while saving time and money.
- Continuity of care: Connecting disparate systems creates a central location for storing and accessing patient information across multiple sites.
- Improve interoperability and data quality: By updating infrastructure and introducing digital technologies such as electronic health records, telemedicine devices and artificial intelligence applications, healthcare organisations can access high-quality and accurate data.
- Placing healthcare into the patient’s hands: Now, with electronic health records and the modern services being developed around them, patients can easily access their information, request prescription refills, and even schedule appointments from anywhere in the world. This newfound accessibility lets patients make informed decisions about their care, making it easier for providers to collaborate on treatment plans and better support patients.
The above benefits are some of the proposed goals of the SDPR initiative. They will also benefit healthcare systems across the country if we prioritise these solutions. It sounds like quite a utopia for the healthcare sector, and while the reality is that these are achievable, there is a lot of work required to get there.
What needs to happen to make health records interoperable?
To feel these benefits in the healthcare sector and make SDPR possible, we need interoperability standards in digital health data to enable access in real-time via cloud platforms. FHIR will ensure that providers have a complete view of a patient’s medical history. FHIR provides a much-needed solution to the healthcare sector’s interoperability issues by making standards for sharing medical records between different systems.
Additionally, we need robust cyber security measures to keep data safe so it is only available to those authorised to see it. FHIR is built on multiple layers of cyber security protocols and supports industry-standard authentication technology. The combination of these measures helps protect sensitive data from unauthorised access, maintains patient privacy, and prevents malicious actors from tampering with healthcare records.
Finally, we will struggle to make these a reality without government support. The fact that the NSW Government is already behind the SDPR initiative is a great sign for the future.
Fluffy Spider can support interoperability between healthcare records
We help organisations move toward a future of connected digital healthcare, making existing systems interoperable and modernising infrastructure to unlock the potential of new technologies.
We can help you identify the relevant opportunities to incorporate modern web services and standards for health information exchange, such as HL7 and FHIR fast healthcare interoperability resources, enabling systems to interoperate with other modern health information exchange technologies from the medical software industry and those already implemented by large healthcare providers such as Government health departments.
Visit our Healthcare Integration Services page to learn more about our capabilities and solutions.