Healthcare settings frequently leverage a variety of systems integrated into their operations. Organisations need their health information systems to work together in harmony so they can provide better care for individuals and communities. This is where healthcare interoperability comes into play. Healthcare systems today need to communicate in real-time and provide care professionals with the latest information about a patient.
Healthcare interoperability improving clinical outcomes
As healthcare providers, we have witnessed how the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a significant increase in the backlog for non-COVID related treatments. This change has made organisations depend even more on effective interoperability. A holistic view of a patient’s entire medical history, including procedures, allergies, and medications, can help physicians deliver more effective treatments and avoid any potential errors in treatment. In addition to the benefit of delivering better quality care, knowing the complete picture of a patient’s data in real-time can also reduce the amount of effort linked to patient management.
Fortunately, we have seen several cases of successful healthcare interoperability. These organisations have benefitted from reducing the number of potential errors and avoiding having to run costly duplicated tests. Interoperability has also saved the industry significant amounts of time by automatically filling gaps in a patient’s history using interconnected healthcare systems.
Patients can benefit from a unified healthcare system. Instead of repeating their medical history and remembering past treatments and medications, they can rely on their records being safely available to clinicians through digital systems. As a result, doctors can spend more time treating patients instead of catching up with their medical history.
Safer transitions of care with healthcare interoperability
Healthcare interoperability can lead to safer transitions of care. When patients move from the hospital to a different setting, mistakes or delays in discharge arrangements can create adverse events and re-admissions. A 2020 analysis of existing and emerging patient safety practices identified several models that can benefit high-risk and older adult populations. One of the barriers to implementing them is lack of interoperability between service facilities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the potential of telehealth as an option for healthcare, particularly with urgent or remote cases. In the last year, many people needed to communicate with their clinician from home, many for the first time. Tele-ICU has also proven highly effective for remote patient access, helping clinicians monitor them without repeatedly entering rooms hosting COVID-19 patients. Intensive care physicians can now be responsible for hundreds of ICU beds at a time from one location and can immediately intervene if they notice any signs of deterioration.
AI and tools that support clinical decisions also turn data into valuable insights. Cloud-based solutions facilitate the detection of issues by transmitting critical patient data through connected devices. By having patient data correctly integrated, covering a person’s entire health journey, providers can plan for the optimal times to activate transitions of care.
Interoperability is changing where and how transitions of care happen. Healthcare is no longer confined to the space in which it takes place – usually a hospital room. Quality care does not mean physical proximity anymore. Thanks to data integration and digital care, care can be defined not by the location of a patient but by their condition.
Healthcare interoperability can increase patient safety and security
Hospitals today have hundreds of systems and devices that need to communicate with each other constantly, often with dozens of sensors on the beds alone. Unless there is a way for healthcare organisations to provide secure ways to share data, there is a risk of incurring errors. For example, doctors could fail to account for symptoms, ordering inappropriate tests, or not assess all diagnosis for a patient.
A way to substantially cut down on errors is by sharing complete and detailed patient data in real-time. Because patients will visit several providers, it’s essential that each of them can access the person’s history to learn of allergies, medications, and pre-existing conditions. The goal of health information exchange is, after all, to facilitate the access and retrieval of all available clinical data. And there’s no better way to do this than all of your systems being interoperable.
Care coordination today involves a variety of stakeholders. Traditionally, the exchange of clinical information focused on providers and hospitals. As technology progresses and healthcare moves into value-based care, new partners are added to the equation. Healthcare has broadened to include patients, caregivers, public health departments, and community-based organisations.
This is why a patient’s data needs to be stored and shared in a way that protects privacy. It’s common for interoperable digital healthcare systems to keep track of input data and manage users’ access rights. One crucial advantage of interoperable medical devices and systems is that they let different stakeholders enter and track health information securely.
Lower costs with healthcare interoperability
Interoperability also offers a unique benefit for those that utilise it to deliver better care. It can reduce the cost of paperwork by digitising the process of collecting and processing data. Clinicians can make better treatment decisions because test results are available immediately, and administrative staff can reduce duplication by working with coordinated databases without so much as the need to make a call.
Patients also save time and money thanks to digital healthcare interoperability. They don’t need to share their entire medical journey every time they visit a new doctor or return to one, and they can avoid repeating tests and follow-up visits by having their history available to them at all times.
Fully interoperable systems can save the healthcare industry millions of dollars, and reduce the number of redundant tests. Clinicians can spend less time manually entering information and, therefore, significantly increase their productivity. Patient stay lengths can be reduced when care is more effective, and transitions are handled quickly and safely.
The healthcare industry has experienced an unexpected and unprecedented surge in activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Will setting up interoperability require an initial investment in software and infrastructure? Yes. However, in my experience, it’s much more costly to employ thousands of people dedicated to dealing with “non-interoperability” with these costs continually to build over time.
Interoperable systems can help organisations achieve better healthcare outcomes for a lower cost by streamlining clinical and operational processes. Thanks to interoperable healthcare systems, providers can significantly alleviate administrative bottlenecks, avoid readmissions, and improve decision making – resulting in better care value for all.
Healthcare interoperability with Fluffy Spider Technologies
Fluffy Spider Technologies creates commercially viable software systems for interoperable digital healthcare that manage the electronic health data journey from devices to medical records systems.
High-quality commercial software requires a dedicated team with relevant experience. We can work with you through the entire process, from concept to commercialisation.
Visit our Integration Services page to learn more about our capabilities and solutions.