Innovating Interoperability in Healthcare

img-information-technologyInnovation in healthcare is critical; it helps enhance quality patient care and improves workflow drastically. However, to encourage the innovation we need in healthcare, a cultural change across the industry is required. Collaborations across the healthcare industry need to occur to improve current processes, and to ensure the patient is the priority in everything we do. The changes we make should encompass this mantra and focus on putting the patient at the center of quality care.

There is a tremendous amount of innovation happening across the country. Startups and innovators are working to tackle these tough challenges in healthcare by brainstorming creative ideas and inspiring new solutions. Interoperability challenges, however, can create bottlenecks that detract from potential breakthroughs and hinder the piloting process. True transformation requires access to data from the entire longitudinal patient record, overcoming the isolation and silos of traditional healthcare.

One way innovation startups can improve interoperability is by sharing and leveraging a common set of interfaces. Creating point-to-point custom interfaces takes time, money and resources to which most organizations just cannot commit. Startups that can leverage a common interface remove the major integration obstacle, which translates to more pilots and potentially easier adoption by the market.

Though some solutions do not seem like they would need integration, like patient engagement applications, healthcare tools that cannot consume or contribute to the healthcare record are ultimately rendered useless. Data needs to be relevant, meaningful and simple to access for providers so that it can empower clinical decision-making. Tech giants are making the leap and using their innovative prowess to open doors in healthcare and provide platforms that can be used by others to evolve, innovate and grow. By taking the open development approach of technology and applying it to healthcare, we can make great leaps forward toward improving care and patient experiences.

Ultimately, healthcare innovation all comes back to the patient and providing the best care possible. The whole industry – vendors, providers and patients – all have to work together to move the needle in healthcare.

Mony Weschler, MA, CPHIMS, FHIMSS, CIIP, EMTP, is Senior Director Applications Strategy & Innovation, Montefiore Information Technology in New York City. A veteran of more than 25 years in clinical IT informatics and management, his work focuses on improving patient care with use of advanced clinical informatics specializing in medical imaging and innovation. He was on the pioneering team that developed the first EHR at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center.

Midwives and Technology: Maximizing Local Care

Sense4BabyIncAssetsAcquiredByAirStripAs a midwife in the Netherlands for more than twenty years, I have personally experienced how technology in obstetrics has transformed how we deliver care to expectant mothers. With more than 2,000 midwives in the Netherlands, many healthy women – those not typically at risk of complications – choose to receive care directly from a midwife in their own communities. By having access to technologies that have traditionally been found only in the hospital, we are able to provide the best care possible and can monitor for any signs of risk to refer patients to an obstetrician if needed.

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A Ray of Hope from Washington? Don’t Rush Meaningful Use

52107I was very pleased to see that U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander is recommending the delay for Stage 3 of Meaningful Use, since it would drive the entire system to its knees. We all agree that the industry needed to change. This has been a bi-partisan initiative that started with President Bush and his appointment of David Brailer as the National Health Information Technology Coordinator back in 2004. For the past decade, this effort has been continued by the Meaningful Use program under the ONC.

I am not criticizing the initial goals of Meaningful Use (Stage 1 – Data Aggregation & Data Access; Stage 2 – Healthcare Information Exchange and Care Coordination; and Stage 3 – Outcomes Improvement). Rather, my extreme disappointment is directed to the fact that we did not pay attention to the first pillar – Data Aggregation and Data Access – to achieve outcomes improvement, which cannot be accomplished without clear and aggressive guidelines on interoperability requirements. Instead, the effort was directed to the implementation of EHRs for data entry, which created silos around few vendors. Of course, the consolidation and collaboration of healthcare providers that resulted from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exposed the failures of Stages 1 and 2 around interoperability.

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Monitoring and Predicting: The Promise of Digital Health

imagesThis is the third in a three-part series looking at how digital health is transforming healthcare.

The Goldman Sachs report I mentioned in the first part of this series mentions that remote patient monitoring (RPM) enables healthcare providers to better manage high risk patients, potentially decreasing healthcare spending through better chronic disease management. Further, the report notes that most chronic disease spending can be attributed to heart disease, asthma, and diabetes-disease states that represent the most fertile ground for digital health.

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The Digital Health Revolution Has Arrived

original_69316This is the first in a three-part series looking at how digital health is transforming healthcare.

Digital healthcare holds the promise of saving a staggering $305 billion, according to a recently published report from Goldman Sachs. The report predicts the technology revolution will come from increasing access to diagnostic, treatment, and preventative care, coupled with dramatic cost reductions. In particular, they see significant opportunities for digitally-enabled telehealth, behavioral modification and remote patient monitoring, while much of the savings will be generated by the elimination of redundant and wasteful spending in the area of chronic disease management.

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Shifting Our Thinking to Prepare for the Future

futureWhile health systems are facing the need to provide better outcomes at a lower cost, there is only so much that can be achieved through consolidation, incentives, and standardization. Most recognize that in order to continue moving the needle on cost, hospitals and health systems will require fundamental redesign in the way care is provided. Business, clinical, and technology thought leadership has an opportunity to create a virtuous cycle where innovation can both inform the direction for and respond to the requirements of care pathway transformation. Mobility, interoperability, and analytics are all required to deliver intelligent data at the moment of care to the care team and consumers.

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