Most experts would agree that healthcare in the United States is too expensive. Furthermore, there is a fairly strong consensus that the cost problem in the sector is not created by the simple fact that care is expensive, but instead by the amount of waste that is happening in the industry. Bi-directional system integration is emerging as a key tool to improve operational efficiency in healthcare, creating a more sustainable fiscal model moving forward.
Excess testing is one of the most commonly cited problems in the healthcare industry, as the lack of data sharing between clinics, physician offices and hospitals makes it difficult for various medical professionals to fully understand what procedures a patient has undergone and the results of those tests. It is not uncommon for a patient evaluation performed by a local physician to be repeated by a specialist in a hospital because, even if that doctor knows the patient has had the test, he or she likely does not have complete access to the results. This issue also extends into prescription writing and medication orders, as the lack of collaboration makes it difficult for doctors in diverse care settings to work together when working with a single patient throughout the treatment cycle.
Between extra tests, problems with orders and results, pharmacy-related troubles and other challenges that stem from poor data sharing, it is clear that the need to support collaboration is becoming essential in healthcare. The urgency of this move is especially evident in the Stage 2 meaningful use standards, which heavily emphasize going beyond basic EHR deployment and uni-directional integration and are now pushing hospitals, physician offices and clinics toward increased establishment of bi-directional integration solutions.
The financial implications of bi-directional integration go well beyond reducing waste. Each time a healthcare facility establishes a need to exchange data they subsequently have to invest in the HL7 interface, work with the vendor(s) and establish the necessary workflow to be successful. Bi-directional data exchanges presents even greater challenges around registration and order management and the need to match patients and orders between systems. As a result, healthcare networks are filled with valuable, but technically disparate interfaces that are not inherently designed to communicate with each other. Interface engine technology is vital to getting the most out of these investments, as it allows the organizations the ability to leverage their interface investments and reuse these connections points to route the information. This technology is a crucial piece to the interoperability puzzle and is imperative that organizations invest as part of their integration strategy.
Tackling bi-directional physician office integration doesn’t have to be so hard. How are you handling your data exchange today?