Connecting disparate medical systems and wrangling patient record data from siloed hospital departments is important for several reasons – extracting data from hidden siloes takes valuable time away from the patient. There is also the chance that critical data could be missed.
“Many systems were designed in days where they were just islands of information. The need to share the information wasn’t there and the need to put all the dots together, or connect the dots wasn’t that strong,” says Mr. Rubens.
The ability for devices and systems to connect with each other and share data has the potential to enable a 360-degree view of the patient’s health, allowing clinicians to make faster, more responsive decisions, which is behind the drive to prioritise interoperability in hospital IT systems. Interoperability means that data can travel across vendors and health systems to facilitate access to high-quality care, regardless of the patient’s physical geography.
Achieving true interoperability is a complex endeavour, whether it is a medical device integration or the seamless connection of multiple systems, applications, departments, and institutions. “The fact that these systems were not designed to be interoperable from the get go, means you have a tougher challenge to solve now because you cannot replace all those systems overnight,” says Mr. Rubens.
He adds: “The opportunity is really to use interoperability layers and solutions that allow you to still connect these systems and extract meaningful information from those systems, normalise that data as necessary, without forcing you to undergo big forklift replacements of these solutions.”
Although standards organisations have made significant strides, and regulatory incentives, such as meaningful use, have encouraged vendors and healthcare providers to improve system interoperability and content sharing, data inconsistencies and data quality issues persist.
While the challenges are many, so are the opportunities to positively influence patients and providers through more integrated care delivery models. An enterprise-wide interoperability strategy can ensure that insight-rich data is put to meaningful and appropriate use, helping to transform the delivery of healthcare for everyone, connecting the dots, removing disconnects, and sharing data to the benefit of everyone.