The contribution of advanced technology has been there in medical science and healthcare for decades. Just like the knowledge of human beings, there is a constant development in the healthcare industry to have better treatment options for the patients and have better control on the diseases and health problems. Various healthcare IT companies are using extensive research to introduce highly efficient technologies into the world of medical treatment. Interoperability is often defined as the use of health data obtained electronically in a secure and timely process so that the data can be used to have better health outcomes for specific patients and also for the populations suffering from a particular disease or health issue.
Interoperability also refers to the ability of modern electronic systems in healthcare to be able to exchange information among themselves without the total intervention of a human operator. The prime aim of using such electronic gadgets and equipment is to provide more personalized treatment to every patient that will help in quick recovery and total cure. Thus interoperability is a powerful internal process among electronic gadgets that can provide breakthroughs and specialized treatment options in healthcare.
Healthcare interoperability is a wonderful opportunity offered by advanced technological science which can benefit the global health system. As the interoperability data is also targeted towards the health management of a wide population the capabilities of such advanced technology is immense. But the advantage of interoperability is not being used in the healthcare industry predominantly as it should have been.
The data which would take days by clinicians to find useful health outputs, the same can be done more effectively by electronic devices interoperability in much less time. If the patient is in a critical state and healthcare interoperability benefits are not used, it is also possible that the patient’s safety would get compromised. Various statistical studies in the United States also suggest that billions of dollars could have been saved if healthcare interoperability was promoted and practically implemented in most of the medical facilities of the country.
The lack of interoperability use in the healthcare industry is also responsible for its slow growth and excess challenges faced by innovators in systems development. Data access and advanced healthcare environment integration are the prime challenges faced by technology innovators. The number of research facilities that work on healthcare systems development like interoperability has also reduced.
The education and knowledge reach of healthcare interoperability has witnessed progress in recent years which is crucial among healthcare professionals. Several advancements like the CMS Interoperability and Patient access rule, the adaptation of electronic data standard which is HL7 FHIR and the 21st-century cures act are some of the signs of progress which had occurred recently. Healthcare operability has proven to be also effective in letting doctors make more informed and ideal decisions based on the data analysis conclusions provided by the interoperability systems.
The importance of healthcare interoperability
The categories of data in healthcare have always been sensitive to handle and process. The accessibility to typical health data is also challenging for the developers of interoperable electronic gadgets and equipment. The healthcare interoperability allows a much better understanding of the population’s health scenario and the individual risks that a patient has in chronic disease.
This causes more expenditure both on the patient’s and the hospital’s end without useful outcomes to inflict on the treatment. The constant research in the fields of medicine, treatment procedures and disease structure has resulted in the discovery of cures and treatments which are the most effective. For these vital researches to carry on the use of interoperability systems in healthcare can help with better data orientation and availability.
The unavailability of an integrated patient data platform causes delayed treatment and wastage of money that could have been avoided if healthcare interoperability was implemented on a larger scale around the medical facilities. According to reports from the Office of National Coordinator in the US it has been stated that the use of electronic health records has jumped to much higher figures in recent years. Hospitals are having to access patient records and detailed data from outside providers without coordination with other hospitals and medical facilities.
Most of the hospitals are keeping the individual patient records privately without placing them in the electronics records forum for global access. The health information systems need to be further integrated using the healthcare interoperability systems to have a check on the utilization rates of treatments and the effect of each fragment that a conventional treatment procedure holds. The government bodies which are dedicated to the research and development of the healthcare industry would be able to function better with the presence of an integrated patient records platform operated by interoperability systems.
The population data can be utilized to find out about the existing diseases and the effect it’s having on the people getting diagnosed. By various types of analysis on this data, it is possible to bring changes in the healthcare organizations to serve better the patient’s needs and treatment experience. The various software platforms designed by healthcare IT vendors can also improve their technological systems by going through the data reports from interoperability systems.
The advanced gadgets which are being used in medical science can be integrated with the healthcare interoperability platform to have excellent outcomes in treatment. The usage of medical data and patient records irrespective of the source can accelerate various developmental researches happening around the world and build a technologically connected healthcare system that has the power of interoperability even in highly integrated platforms.
FHIR and the remaining challenges in front of healthcare interoperability
In the world of healthcare, FHIR stands for Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources is a framework of the open source category having the purpose to handle healthcare data. The previous framework of the same category was called HL7 and the FHIR has been built from utilizing its features and system details. The goal of creating FHIR was to let vital healthcare data move between electronic gadgets and equipment much more easily. The organizational properties of FHIR make it extraordinary, all the data which it receives gets categorized into medications, patient details, health conditions and symptoms.
The FHIR framework also builds a system in which other applications and computer systems can access the information. The FHIR also finds it useful in structuring other aspects of healthcare like claim information organizing and proper placement of appointments through the receiving software platform. In the United States, there are many healthcare facilities that have been benefiting from using FHIR in their healthcare systems for enhanced exchange of information. The Health IT infrastructure in the US do realize the importance of healthcare interoperability and have encouraged the use of FHIR across the nation along with funding through medicare allotments.
But still, many challenges are remaining in front of healthcare interoperability requiring sufficient changes and advancements in the existing structure of it. The patient record platforms which get created should also be aptly accessible to the patients for accessing their own records and details when required. This reduced the maintenance of physical documents and reports year after year in a world which has got digitally revolutionized already. But there are many reasons why there has not been immense growth in the healthcare interoperability sector around the globe. The prime difficulties and obstacles are mentioned below:
- When the hospital is getting every crucial detail about health, disease history and other basic informational details like name, phone number, email from a patient it becomes also their responsibility to keep the data secure. As the creation of a patient records platform will operate with several healthcare interoperability systems then maintaining the security balance between the access and non-access can get complicated. There have been cybersecurity attacks on healthcare systems in the past and when such a large platform is created using interoperability there remains the chances of several attacks which would require professional constant intervention by reputed cybersecurity vendors.
- Doctors and medical professionals already have the stress to keep learning about technologies being introduced into medical science. When the interoperability platforms are brought into the clinical and healthcare structure in a large form they would also have to learn every detail about it and implement it in their patient treatments. Thus there remains a difference of opinions in the healthcare industry and some communities suggest keeping the interoperability systems limited to billing workflows, prescription management and administration purposes. But not utilizing the benefits of healthcare interoperability doesn’t seem like a wise option with the amazing cloud technologies already being present to support the development and security of data.
- A proper rule structure of healthcare interoperability is required by which the consent format gets simpler and medical organizations would get a clear idea of which information would require consent from the patient to get shared through digital access. The lack of such a rule structure has led to health organizations keeping all the information private and denying access to any other health or medical facility that might require it with a positive purpose.
- Various existing healthcare interoperability systems require much simplification at the framework level so that EHR systems conversion becomes simpler making the organization of data much more convenient to be accessed. The new regulations are making EHR creators also provide APIs that support interoperability, making the HL7 and FHIR record formats most common in use.
Endnote on interoperability opportunity
There are several advantages of interoperability that have made the system relevant to use by some health organizations already. The interoperability systems provide such easy access to data that test repetitions and miscommunications can be avoided using it. The research sectors of medical science would get immensely helped if the interoperability systems get global acceptance in the healthcare industry, the patient records would provide much constructive and reliable research opportunities to medical researchers.
There remain roadblocks in the way of interoperability’s progress but the undeniable benefits of it should make way for growth. Some problems like the security of data won’t be a problem anymore if proper planning is executed. There already exist several global platforms which have information of millions of people but they are getting protected by advanced cybersecurity mechanisms, so the same can be expected to be done into the patient records portals that get created with interoperability structure.