Many of us remember a time when we shared digital information through good old-fashioned floppy disks, which started us on a path for ubiquitous data transfer.
Then came two game changing innovations for data transfer: USB drives, and ultimately, cloud-based solutions like Dropbox to send, share, and receive data. Now, information flows freely and safely between our devices and our organizations thanks to innovation and evolution.
In the healthcare arena, this ability to seamlessly exchange data has not been easy, especially when it comes to patient records. Gaining access to and transporting patient data remains difficult when critical health information lives on different systems that are not interoperable.
I was a victim of this myself in 2010, when a surgeon did not have access to bone scans done by a related health system. Instead of electronic exchange, I had to FedEx CDs of the scans before the surgery, which weren’t uploaded into the system in time. The result – an incorrect portion of my rib was removed resulting in inconclusive diagnosis.
Sadly, this is not rare. It’s all too common for hospitals and health systems to be operating Frankenstein-like information exchange systems comprised of diverse solutions from different vendors. And, to make matters even more complex, many HIT vendors are also reluctant to make the sharing of data – whether via standards or other means – easy.
These barriers have created a perfect storm for all parties involved in the healthcare ecosystem that are diligently trying to improve patient care, reduce hospital readmissions, manage costs, and develop new treatments.
Hosted software solutions, called “interface engines”, get us part of the way there – like the move from floppies to USB hard drives, they can move data better and faster – but still at a significant cost, both in labor and time.
Thankfully, innovative cloud-based solutions are emerging that can serve as the next-generation “universal bus” for clinical information exchange. These revolutionary SaaS solutions aim to mitigate some of the biggest challenges of electronic health record sharing – data access and interoperability.
Exchange of electronic health records can be affordable and ubiquitous for Hospitals, Health Systems, ACOs, mobile health apps, and big data needs like public and population health. Cloud-base “health buses” can send and receive medical information, and maintain connections with other health providers no matter what systems they are using. Furthermore, these solutions achieve this without expensive custom interfaces, but utilizing a suite of standards-based protocols, including HL7 V2, REST, FHIR, XDR, XDS, XCA, NwHIN, and Direct Secure Messaging.
Ultimately, these new “health buses” empower healthcare organizations to safely send and receive medical records with caregivers, coordinators, and payers, – without worrying about the vendor systems or their capabilities.
The healthcare arena has been dealing with the challenge of effectively sharing patient data for many years. Fortunately, there are now solutions that are as simple to use as a USB or Dropbox to connect the whole world of healthcare.