The Growing Importance of Health Data Interoperability

The Growing Importance of Health Data Interoperability

Receiving and sharing patients’ medical information are vital for good quality, effective care. When it comes to complex patients with co-existing chronic conditions, accessing their medical history and medication records becomes particularly crucial. There many people who receive treatment at multiple specialized health centers. It would be in the patient’s best interest for these establishments, often in the same network, to be able to communicate with one another seamlessly and share information that is in the patient’s best interest, but this is seldom the case.

That is because electronic data that come from multiple sources can be difficult to exchange. New technologies used by different organizations are not necessarily aligned, which often makes interoperability a challenge. Significant time and resources are being used to achieve health information sharing, but we still have a long way to go. The good news is efforts are being made to improve the experience and deliver better health care.

Innovative Approaches for Improved Interoperability

Recently, The Pew Charitable Trusts funded a study that explored innovative ways to accessing, extracting and aggregating electronic health data. The study, conducted by Avalere, included five medical device registries from a diverse set of therapeutic areas. First, some of the barriers to data interoperability were identified: a variety of standards, difficulty sharing between different platforms and concerns about data security, to name a few.

The final report suggested some innovations that could help address these barriers. Policy recommendations included:

-Creating a private-public sector committee that would, among other things, work on developing a common data model for data exchange.

-Developing groups that would examine and harmonize existing security regulations.

-Building on recently enacted interoperability and information sharing provisions, and incentivizing vendors and registries that use it.

-Formally addressing the ability to send data to third-party clinical data registries.

Companies Championing Interoperability Innovations

Some companies are already offering some novel solutions that could improve data interoperability and, consequently, improve patient care and clinical decision-making. One such company is 3M – a global innovation company that applies science to different organizational problems. 3M designed an approach that translates and standardizes patient data, keeps vocabulary standards, matches data and facilitates access to data. Its service-orientated architecture (SOA) approach strives to create meaningful, actionable data and works across different systems.

Validic is another example of a company that works on accessibility and data integration. Its cloud-based technology platform acts as a bridge between patient-recorded data and hospital systems. Patients who use health applications, clinical devices and wearables can now easily share their information with the health-care provider. This improves access and patient engagement, and also helps solve the integration challenge of mobile health technologies.

Validic, considered the world’s leading digital platform, is currently serving 160 million clients in 47 countries and is dedicated to continuous growth. On Dec. 2, Validic announced future collaboration with higi, a company that developed a community-based health kiosk network. The strategic collaboration will allow health-care organizations to access an even more diverse and actionable data pool.

Vendors supporting interoperability

When it comes to implementing interoperability, friction between the electronic health records (EHR) vendor community and the government is often noticed. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has perceived the private sector to be potentially “information blocking.” However, some vendors have shown a proactive approach to solving the interoperability challenges.

During this year’s KLAS Keystone Summit in Utah, vendors took measures to improve health data interoperability. Twelve EHR vendor companies agreed to measure interoperability using an objective measurement tool and report to Washington on an ongoing basis. Interoperability will be measured in two ways: transaction counting and clinicians’ experience. The consensus between vendors will make information exchange more transparent and could facilitate future interoperability efforts.

It appears that the private sector is initiating a form of self-regulation – they are open to work closely with the government — but at the same time, they do not want to be regulated.