- Connected devices and APIs can provide patients with a centralized hub for their healthcare data, making it accessible to their care team, leading to improved well-being and convenience.
- Interoperability, especially through connected devices and APIs, promises benefits for both patients and healthcare providers. It can streamline healthcare processes, reduce costs, and enhance patient care.
- Healthcare providers can reduce manual data exchange, minimize errors, and improve patient care outcomes by embracing interoperability and data standardization.
A remarkable transformation is underway in the healthcare world—a technology-fueled shift that epitomizes patient-centricity. It is reshaping our perspective on healthcare, redirecting the spotlight from hospitals and institutions to the domains of virtual care and at-home treatments.
Despite the industry momentum and substantial investments, an unmistakable void remains in achieving interoperability between providers, payers, patients, and the array of stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem.
At one end of the chain of problems, we find the non-digitized providers who lack the data essential to make informed patient care decisions. Even among their digitized counterparts, there is a challenge in connecting patient information across the sprawling ecosystem. Even when connectivity exists to an extent, the data quality stands as a huge barrier -- incomplete information, conflicting information, and inconsistent formatting make it impractical to use the data. But what sets off this chain of problems is the relentless focus of medical device manufacturers on production, often sidelining the crucial need to ensure data interoperability.
With the healthcare industry approaching this monumental transformation, it is our moment to lead the charge, ignite discussions, and take action to integrate medical devices and drive seamless interoperability for unprecedented healthcare quality.
The Challenge of Data Silos
Imagine a patient with a chronic illness who regularly uses multiple medical devices -a blood glucose monitor, a portable oxygen concentrator, and a wearable fitness tracker- to monitor their condition. The data collected by such devices can be highly valuable in providing holistic care. But they all operate in siloes using different data formats and protocols. As a result, the data remains trapped in each device, unavailable to the patient's healthcare team.
Historically, patient data has been scattered across Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) and Electronic Health Records (EHRs) within hospital networks. How can we ensure the seamless integration of this data into the broader healthcare ecosystem? What steps should we take to utilize the full potential of this combined data to provide holistic care?
A Connected Healthcare Experience
The answer lies in the practice of interoperability. Connected devices are the logical first step. By making medical devices and healthcare systems connect and "speak the same language" and ensuring the secure, standardized, and efficient exchange of data, we unlock a multitude of benefits.
Perks for patients:
For healthcare consumers, which includes each one of us at some point in life, dealing with healthcare often means explaining the same issue separately to multiple stakeholders.
Imagine this: A patient battling a chronic illness depends on a portable oxygen concentrator device for their daily lifeline. Now, this device seamlessly links to a mobile application, whisking crucial data into the cloud. Imagine a central dashboard that gathers the patient's recent appointments, medications, lab reports, and imaging records, all neatly organized in one accessible hub for the entire medical team—providers, payers, pharmacies, and lab tools.
With this power of connected devices and APIs, patients can experience a profound improvement in their well-being and healthcare journey. Healthcare providers who embrace this superior level of convenience not only gain a competitive edge but also meet the growing demand for exceptional service and high-quality care.
Perks for the providers:
While patients seek the highest quality care, providers must also find ways to deliver that level of care without letting their costs spiral out of control. Here too, connected medical equipment and interoperability offer a promising solution.
At present, a substantial chunk of staff hours is eaten away by the tedious manual exchange of patient data among payers, diagnostics, labs, and other specialized professionals. This painstaking process is not only time-intensive but also error-prone, and it can exact a high cost in critical, time-sensitive situations.
By championing data standardization, digitizing more medical equipment, and promoting interoperability, healthcare providers can break free from the cumbersome paperwork and channel their energy into delivering actual care.
The payoff? Superior patient care and outcomes, leveraging extensive patient data. Significant cost reductions achieved by eliminating redundancy, errors, and low-value tasks– it's all within reach.
The requirements are clear: we now need a robust solution that enables seamless interoperability between devices and EHR systems which is the primary storage of patients’ clinical data.
The Road to Interoperability: Best Practices
Achieving interoperability in healthcare demands a well-thought-out strategy and adherence to industry standards. To effectively integrate device readings and metadata with EHR/EMR systems, several crucial considerations come into play. The creation of an interoperable ecosystem, facilitated by application programming interfaces (APIs) and middleware, ensures the seamless flow of data between devices and healthcare providers. Here are some best practices we employ:
Data Interface - Communication Protocol
The data interface retrieves and securely stores device data during transit. Established transmission protocols like TCP/IP, Web services, IoT, REST, and SOAP are employed for secure data exchange.
Data Standardization - HL7/FHIR
The data standardization layer plays a pivotal role in converting device-generated data into standardized healthcare interoperability formats like FHIR. Industry-standard data formats such as Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) and Health Level Seven (HL7) are adopted to ensure consistency in data exchange.
Data Export and Security
The data export layer is responsible for seamlessly transmitting device data to the EHR system. It offers compatibility with different EHR connectors such as EPIC, Cerner, eClinicalWorks, and more. Given the sensitivity of healthcare data, robust security measures compliant with regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are implemented to protect patient privacy.
Transforming Healthcare Together
The challenge is clear, and the solutions are within reach. At the forefront of this integration journey should be a dedicated technology partner, bridging the gap between innovative medical device manufacturers and the world of digital healthcare. These devices are more than mere tools; they hold the potential to transform lives. Together, we can pave the road to a healthcare ecosystem where data flows freely, care reaches new heights, costs find balance, and lives flourish. The question that remains: What part will you play in sculpting this revolutionary healthcare future?