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Four ways managed care executives can advance interoperability


Managed healthcare executives can set the table for future economic expansion of interoperability capabilities by following a few simple, straightforward tips.

While national standards for interoperability in healthcare are not yet established, managed healthcare stakeholders who want to improve care and delivery as well as reduce costs must remain committed to propelling interoperability forward.

With respect to managed healthcare, interoperability is about giving every party involved-from payers to providers-the ability to interact with and share patient data with each other and across various systems.

READ: ONC's plan to solve the interoperability puzzle: An exclusive interview with Karen DeSalvo, MD

Interoperability from an internal standpoint is about giving each facility and/or integrated healthcare system the ability to use and repurpose patient data for its own stakeholders. To this end, facilities must have the ability to integrate new and third-party solutions, as well as extend the IT infrastructure that is already in place within their own ecosystem.

For managed healthcare stakeholders, interoperability and data standardization are key to enabling organizations to share patient information and bring evidence-based medicine to the point of care. Sharing data allows for effective clinical decision making, including more accurate decision support to improve care quality and lower cost. It also provides the ability for clinicians to deliver high quality care with management of patient populations across varying regions.

Removing interoperability barriers

Managed healthcare executives can set the table for future economic expansion of interoperability capabilities by following a few simple, straightforward tips.

1. Identify your interoperability goals. Executives should be in alignment on interoperability goals in order to determine the appropriate solution for the organization. It’s important for them to agree on the organization’s clinical and financial goals and determine if their existing technology is up to the task.

Byers 2. Keep your strategy simple. Upgrading or replacing legacy systems can allow organizations to leverage the latest and greatest technologies that more easily share information. However, these new technology investments can be extremely costly, time-consuming, and disruptive to existing work flows and processes.

Many organizations would do well to consider lightweight technologies such as  “smart routers,” enabling them to rapidly exchange data without disrupting current legacy systems or user work flows-and saving significant sums of money in the process.

Smart routers, for example, are intelligent devices that route information along a network based on the least expensive pathway, rather than what was originally configured in the system. This eliminates the need for expensive changes to older legacy systems and dramatically improves network performance for approximately one-tenth the cost.

3. Address network performance and accuracy. The lightweight solutions, such as smart routers, mentioned above can economically address network speed and accuracy.

Asking vendors to run benchmarking tests on systems similar to the one in use by the organization can provide valuable information on which to base a purchase decision. Managed healthcare leaders need to consider how much improvement in network speed and reliability they can achieve relative to the cost for a given solution.

4. Get providers on board. Despite its simplicity, this requires a degree of education to create awareness among decision makers, especially with regard to cost savings. Vendors can help in demonstrating performance improvements, new capabilities, and ease of use to providers to gain acceptance. Allowing clinicians to ask question, raise concerns, or issues directly with vendors helps the staff understand that new technology-and improved interoperability-will make their lives easier and enhance confidence in the systems. As providers begin to see and understand the clinical benefits, it becomes easier to achieve buy-in and acceptance.

Mark Byers is president and chief executive officer of DSS, Inc.. Follow DSS on twitter @DSSHealthIT.

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