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Before investing in new interoperability solutions, executives need to consider these four things.
Before investing in new interoperability solutions, executives need to consider technology that won’t be an added workload burden for employees and other healthcare providers, says Joel Chakra, head of marketing for CrossChx, a healthcare IT company that focuses on artificial intelligence solutions.
The goal of technology is being lost in the bells and whistles, Chakra says. Instead of technology being used as a way to make workflow simple and increase time with patients, many providers are getting stuck behind screens in order to capture data.
“Humans have become the routers of information, inputting data, then transferring it from one system to another, while taking away precious time that can be focused on direct-patient care. For these reasons, interoperability needs to be at the top of the C-suite’s mind,” Chakra says, adding that executives need to make mindful decisions before employing another tech tool for providers to implement in order to reach interoperability goals.
“Adding yet another solution that your staff is required to manually operate does not equal interoperability,” Chakra says. “If a C-suite executive wants true interoperability, they will need to think beyond the traditional off-the-shelf products that require integrations and wasted time from both IT and patient access staff.”
Here are four things healthcare executives should consider before investing in an interoperability strategy:
Though data exchange between healthcare entities continues to be important, creating processes for patients to also exchange and manage data has to be a priority, too, says Chakra.
“Patients should also have the ability to share their health information with an organization regardless of systems and EHRs,” Chakra says. “There are already measures in place for information to be shared from provider-to-provider, but there need to be more measures in place for patients to share information with providers, because they are also good stewards of their own information.”
Behavioral healthcare, long-term care, rural or smaller providers that have different or outdated technology leads to issues with care continuity that can be an interoperability challenge, Chakra says.
“Because of these disparate systems, it can become difficult to track a patient throughout the continuum of care; from primary care providers, to hospital visits, to behavioral health clinics, long term care facilities, and so on,” Chakra says, adding that any technology investments should include tools that make it easier for staff to communicate with systems that may be less technologically advanced.
Next: Items three and four to consider
With so many data solutions on the market, Chakra says the process of finding true interoperability can become elusive.
“There are significant investments made into EHRs, email, phone, chat, analytics, patient portals, revenue cycle tools, and other tools necessary to provide high-quality care to patients. Additionally, the time spent hiring and training staff on these applications at disparate parts of their organizations requires a massive amount of resources,” Chakra says.
He suggests that organizations must take an audit of how employees are using different services and applications and how technology solutions can improve that workflow.
“Many interoperability solutions only offer easy, quick fixes that mask or Band-Aid one step of a process. In order for true interoperability to exist, you cannot simply connect one or two processes-you must prove that you can automate entire workflows,” Chakra says.
Chakra says that advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence that can grow with organizations over time will help them get to the eventual goal of interoperability. He says the trend toward automating repetitive, high-volume tasks can allow for more one-on-one interaction with patients.
“Health organizations will need to invest in machine learning, because it will enable them to gain a more complete and accurate record of their patients,” Chakra says. “Artificial intelligence has the power to automate the tools that you already have in place without integrations and being truly system agnostic. Since artificial intelligence can work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it will free up staff to focus on the things that require more of a human touch.”