The healthcare industry is in a state of rapid innovation. From aggregated health data apps to telemedicine and digital front doors, the pandemic has propelled consumer demand for innovative and enhanced healthcare solutions. Additionally, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) and The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) mandates on interoperability and HL7 Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR®) have accelerated this innovation by helping bring multiple healthcare stakeholders together to provide better access to quality health data across the board.
Within this context, digital healthcare interoperability has now become a digital supply chain challenge as healthcare providers must retrieve data or information from systems of record, such as electronic health record (EHR) systems, into destination systems and consumers across multiple organizational boundaries while ensuring security and data privacy.
The pandemic taught us that innovation is key in healthcare - organizations with unique digital experiences thrived while those that struggled to adapt suffered. Consumer expectations have also soared in recent years as patients and members expect a frictionless digital experience from their healthcare organizations and access to their data across the healthcare ecosystem. Interoperability - the ability to share the right data across stakeholders, is a key, if not the most important, building block of this movement.Healthcare organizations that are connected through interoperability are developing the cure for yesterday’s status quo and delivering tomorrow’s proactive healthcare for better outcomes.
Healthcare organizations are finding that the shift to interoperability through digital transformation enables them to quickly deliver innovative products and services and quality patient outcomes. Interoperability must provide healthcare organizations with the foundation to implement a comprehensive application programming interface (API) strategy. FHIR APIs expose business and healthcare delivery opportunities by aligning different applications across any healthcare enterprise. Interoperability on FHIR ignites new data monetization and healthcare delivery models that far exceed EHR integration and reveal new ROI streams for the healthcare enterprise.
Although the benefits of interoperability on FHIR are numerous, the journey through the digital transformation required to achieve this interoperability is complex, representing many moving parts. As with any complex business strategy, the digital transformation journey should be broken into a roadmap of manageable steps that demystify the journey and enable secure, seamless patient-centric digital transformation and healthcare regulation change management.
What all of this means is that healthcare organizations; providers, payers and other healthcare stakeholders alike, must manage a multitude of heterogeneous data sources. This requires the ability to aggregate, consolidate and use the information in a meaningful way and the ability to securely expose the right data to verified parties.
Managing these multiple challenges is where a healthcare integration platform comes in. The first goal is to connect to these systems, retrieve data from them via connectors, convert the data to an appropriate format or canonical model, aggregate and consolidate it, and either store it or pass it along. Wearable devices and data shared through them is an important data set to be considered as well. Once the data is available in the required format, making the information available to stakeholders, which can be third party organizations, internal or external developers, and other apps or systems, as APIs or other shareable and machine-readable formats in a secure manner is an important goal of the integration platform.
Interoperability via integration platforms and API standards such as FHIR hold massive potential for the future of digital healthcare innovation.
The CMS and ONC regulations place the power of data in the hands of patients, which means patients now need access via the application to their own information, regardless of where the data is stored or who the custodian is, which means data must now cross organizational boundaries and be accessible over networks. Security, privacy and the ownership of data cannot be an afterthought in this endeavor.
Moreover, a patient can belong to multiple provider networks, but the information should traverse these networks and be consolidated into a single application across the board. This is an interesting problem because data must now cross organizational boundaries and the optimal way of doing that is via APIs. Consent management of that data, within and across the network, becomes an interesting, albeit vitally important, challenge.
As healthcare organizations seek to embark on their journey through digital transformation, they must decide on an interoperability solution that suits their requirements. Selecting and implementing a solution is complicated by the large number of options in the market, integration complexities, internal and external influencers, and the many moving parts inherent in any digital transformation journey. However, for healthcare organizations to deliver innovative, unique frictionless digital experiences that meet healthcare consumer expectations for health data access across the healthcare ecosystem and ensure quality patient outcomes, these obstacles must be overcome.
A strong customer-centric digital transformation strategy requires specific healthcare interoperability expertise, some of which is listed here:
- Ability to create a successful integration and API strategy for digital adoption
- Knowledge of low-code integration, turnkey digital platform capabilities, FHIR®/HL7 templates, and security/consent management
- Experience deploying and managing large-scale distributed systems that employ a cloud-native, decentralized, lightweight API gateway designed especially for microservices
- Exposure to healthcare accelerators and templates
- Ability to build Longitudinal Patient Records beyond CMS-9115-F compliance
- Understanding how to connect to systems of record such as EMRs, EHRs, obtain data in HL7 Version 2, HL7 FHIR or raw data formats
- Ability to extract data from EHRs or other systems of record, converting to FHIR, and expose as APIs
- Ability to expose healthcare and non-healthcare APIs via an API marketplace to transform messages
Many resources are available to healthcare organizations that wish to implement digital healthcare interoperability. During the coming months, WSO2 is offering a series of no-cost, in-person and virtual educational workshops across North America. These workshops are intended to educate attendees about open-source, programmable products and key technologies required to deliver enhanced digital experiences, and help their healthcare organizations achieve digital adoption through API-led integration.
To learn more and register, visit the WSO2 Events page.
In the meantime, download the Patient Access Compliance and Interoperability Guideline for a look at the global interoperability problem, the CMS rule in detail, who it applies to, timelines, and the steps to become compliant—including data source identification, verification, and key points to consider when evaluating technologies.
Learn, connect, and build innovative solutions for the future of healthcare.
This blog was contributed by WSO2 and does not represent the views of HL7 International.