A lack of interoperability in healthcare means that professionals do not have access to up-to-date and accurate patient information, making it much more difficult to deliver excellent patient care.
Inadequate data also carries genuine risks for patients. If you go to the emergency room of a hospital with a severe injury, what are the chances you will be present of mind enough to provide the healthcare workers with accurate information? They might administer medication that you have reacted to negatively in the past or miss a condition that you did not think to mention.
Let me be clear, this blog does not suggest that healthcare professionals are not doing their utmost; I intend to suggest that they cannot work at their best and that the likelihood of mistakes increases when they are not adequately supported by technology.
So, what are the hidden costs of inadequate healthcare data?
Unnecessary or duplicate tests
Duplicate tests can be a significant cost to patients and the healthcare system. Ordering unnecessary tests due to incomplete or inaccurate healthcare data can lead to a financial burden for patients, as they may be required to pay for the additional tests themselves. It also generates additional costs for the healthcare industry as they dedicate more staff and resources to testing people. Furthermore, some tests, such as those that need to look inside you, have associated health risks and should only be done as needed.
As a simple example, you move cities and visit a new GP about a continuing issue you have. The GP needs to see your blood test results, so they order a blood test. Your previous GP had one done before you moved, but those results are unavailable to your new GP. You waste time and have to pay again, getting another test and revisiting your GP the next week when you could have discussed it the first time had the information been available.
To prevent these hidden financial and time costs, healthcare providers need interoperability in healthcare for collecting and sharing comprehensive healthcare data, including a patient’s medical history, previous diagnoses, and test results. By doing so, healthcare providers can avoid repeating tests, saving patients from unnecessary expenses.
Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis
Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis due to incomplete or inaccurate healthcare data is a hidden cost that can seriously affect patients. It can lead to unnecessary treatments that may cause physical harm, emotional distress to the patient, and additional costs to the healthcare system and the patient.
Without complete and accurate healthcare data, providers may miss critical information that could lead to an incorrect diagnosis. The cost of delayed diagnosis goes beyond additional medical expenses, with patient conditions deteriorating over time and potentially impacting the rest of their life, as their condition could worsen and even become more challenging to treat later.
Inaccurate healthcare data can also result in prescribing the incorrect medication, leading to the patient’s condition worsening. Without interoperability in healthcare, providers may not have access to critical information about the patient’s medical history, allergies, and other medications they are taking.
While healthcare providers are diligent about requesting these details from patients, someone with multiple allergies or medications could forget to mention a condition, allergy or previous episode, resulting in prescriptions that are not appropriate for the patient’s condition or that may interact negatively with their other medications. These medication errors can lead to adverse drug reactions, which can cause physical harm to the patient and result in additional medical expenses.
Reduced patient engagement
Patients who do not have access to their healthcare data or who do not understand the information in their data may feel disempowered and disconnected from their healthcare journey. This lack of patient engagement can have severe consequences for patients’ health outcomes and well-being, such as not feeling motivated to engage in healthy behaviours or seek appropriate medical care, leading to a decline in their health status.
Furthermore, patients who do not have access to their healthcare data may not feel confident in advocating for themselves. This can lead to reduced health outcomes and therefore increased indirect costs, as patients may not receive the appropriate medical care or may undergo unnecessary tests or treatments. So, healthcare providers need solutions that prioritise patient engagement by giving patients access to their data and ensuring they understand it.
Inadequate interoperability in healthcare can lead to significant hidden costs for patients, including declining health outcomes and financial burdens. Unnecessary or duplicate tests, misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, medication errors, and reduced patient engagement all generate hidden costs for patients.
It is the responsibility of digital health technology providers to give healthcare professionals the tools they need to collect and share comprehensive and accurate healthcare data. By doing so, healthcare professionals can ensure that the patient receives the most appropriate medication at the correct dosage and with minimal risks of adverse drug reactions.
Why partner with Fluffy Spider for interoperability in healthcare?
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). We enable 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 Solutions and Services page to learn more about our capabilities and solutions.