The American Health Care Industry has undergone many large-scale changes in the last few decades. This timeframe has given us many drastic reforms in the industry such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or the broad shift towards Values Based Care. However, the most important and significant change is the gradual adoption of software solutions into the healthcare industry. The digitization of healthcare services has brought many benefits to healthcare organizations that can streamline their day-to-day operations. More importantly, these solutions have made life easier for care providers and patients by simplifying care delivery. For these complex systems to operate, they need to display competency in Interoperability.
How Interoperability Ties It All Together
Interoperability in the healthcare context refers to the use of multiple complex information systems and technologies to exchange and interpret health-based data. Because many software systems are designed for specific tasks, data transfer between different systems emerges as a significant challenge. Interoperability makes it possible for different computer systems operating on different platforms to interact with each other. This gives healthcare organizations the ability to use multiple systems for their various needs. At a base level, interoperability is present in approximately 75% of healthcare systems in the US. Incorporation of more advanced levels allows organizations to expand the scale of their services.
How Technology Fights COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic is proving to be a challenging obstacle for the healthcare industry. While the pandemic continues to test existing industry capabilities, the prevalence of computer systems currently in use has aided the fight to control COVID-19. Use of virtual health services has skyrocketed since the outbreak as clinics across the country shifted their focus to COVID-19. Patients can access healthcare services such as routine checkups from their tablet or computer. The significance of this service is to ensure that patients with chronic conditions can receive medical services without the risk of being infected with COVID-19. This has also helped the clinic build a steady cash flow and make up for any revenue shortfalls due to the pandemic.
Examples of Interoperable Health Technology Solutions:
Telehealth involves the transfer of health services through telecommunication platforms. While the main use of telehealth is for virtual conferences between patients and doctors, it is also used to monitor and educate patients. The most popular form of telehealth is video conferencing where the patient and doctor can perform most of the tasks required in a regular check-up. According to the American Hospital Organization (AHA), 3 out of every 4 hospitals offer some form of telehealth services. Telehealth has proven to be a valuable tool in the fight against COVID-19, while eliminating long waiting times and non-essential clinical visits. Telehealth must be interoperable with other platforms for sharing Electronic Health Records (EMR). Reviewing these records is very important for the doctor who is deciding the next course of action for the patient.
Remote Patient Monitoring
Remote Physiological Monitoring (RPM) uses real-time technology to collect vital parameters such as heart rate, blood pressure, weight or other relevant health-based measurements. This device is used by patients to track their health parameters as well as to send the results to qualified healthcare professionals. This professional can analyze the information and intervene in case of abnormal data. This gadget is especially helpful for chronic care patients who can avoid the hassle of routine clinical visits. Clinics that effectively use these devices can significantly reduce the number of readmissions, costing the industry more than $41 billion annually. Interoperability is critical in the delivery of RPM care because data must be transferred from patient devices to healthcare systems without error.
Workflow and Referral Management
The goal of Workflow Management is to streamline patient workflow by eliminating inefficiencies in processes. Technology solutions such as Smart Rooming help nurses treat patients and shift care responsibilities in a time-efficient way. Referral Management is also a very important part of clinical operations. Referral Leaks, which occur when patient Referral loops are not closed, cost the industry millions of dollars a year. An interoperable platform will transfer information from doctors to specialists in a timely and seamless manner.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Despite their highly evolving nature, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) provide a glimpse into the future of healthcare. AI and ML both use machines to perform human activities such as understanding, interpretation and analysis. Despite their limited role, they are currently used for routine activities such as workflow simplification, patient education, diagnosis, and predictive analysis. AI/ML can help healthcare technology innovators achieve interoperability by assisting computer systems in receiving and analyzing data.
The inclusion of interoperable systems has revolutionized the healthcare industry. Below are the main benefits of this solution.
- Improved Patient Experience: One of the main focuses of this innovative software solution is to enhance the overall patient experience. The introduction of Telehealth and RPM increases access to healthcare for all patients. Tools like AI and ML save lives because they diagnose conditions quickly and accurately.
- Simplifying the Treatment Journey: In a traditional Care Journey, patients may have to spend the entire day in the clinic while doctors go back and forth to care for them. Software Solutions has streamlined this process by assisting clinics with scheduling, rooms, and diagnoses. Nurses, Doctors and Clinic staff can allocate their time more efficiently, resulting in a smoother Treatment Journey for patients.
- Optimum Operational Efficiency: Health Organizations can maximize the use of their resources thanks to health technology solutions. Using tools such as Referral Management and Care Orchestration allows organizations to streamline patient workflows. This helps them serve more patients without having to expand or increase costs.
Profit Boost: Perhaps the greatest benefit to organizations is the ability to increase clinical advantage. Efficient software solutions help organizations identify and eliminate inefficient practices. At the same time, solutions like RPM provide additional revenue streams for clinics at a small additional cost. While an interoperable solution may involve initial costs, developing and deploying an effective product will have a positive impact in the long term.
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