By Joanna Gorovoy
The digitization of healthcare information over recent years, fueled by electronic health record (EHR) adoption and meaningful use incentives programs served as a first step toward digital transformation and triggered a massive data explosion in healthcare.
For those who may not be familiar, Meaningful Use is a CMS Medicare and Medicaid program that awards incentives for using EHRs to improve patient care. To achieve Meaningful Use and avoid penalties, providers must follow a set of criteria that serve as a roadmap for effectively using an EHR. With EHR adoption and the proliferation of connected devices—most recently in the form of healthcare wearables and applications—health data is growing at an unprecedented rate. But deriving value from the tremendous volume, velocity, and variety of health data flooding the healthcare ecosystem is a major challenge.
Organizations face a lack of interoperability across systems, an influx of siloed data sources, nonexistent data integration throughout ecosystems, heightened Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) compliance and increased data security demands. To embark on the next digital transformation wave and derive value from mobile, Internet of Things (IoT), and big data initiatives, today’s health IT infrastructure must be reexamined.
Health data must be shared securely within and across health systems and with patients and it must be adaptable in a mobile landscape in order to get it to the right person, in the right place, at the right time.
To meet and exceed these increasing demands, healthcare can embrace digitization.
Focus on the Patient Experience
Providers are forced to reimagine the patient experience, which is increasingly digitized. Equipped with smartphones, tablets, and wearable devices, today’s connected patient demands a more personalized care experience, instant access to health data, and convenient digital services at their fingertips.
As the industry moves away from a fee-for-service approach toward value-based care models, providers look for ways to leverage their health IT investments to deliver a more engaging, cost-effective patient care experience aimed at improving clinical efficiency and overall patient outcomes.
Transforming the overall patient experience has become a key strategic initiative for healthcare providers faced with new patient demands. To do this, providers are forced to find a way to accelerate time to market for digital transformation initiatives. Emerging healthcare industry standards, such as Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources are designed to simplify the exchange of healthcare information. One of the ways they do this is by promoting the use of APIs to support lightweight integration and facilitate data access and interoperability across the healthcare ecosystem.
Address Heightened Data Security Requirements
Additionally, healthcare providers should keep the pace with digital innovation while addressing heightened data security requirements.
From modernizing legacy systems, to enabling cloud, mobile, and IoT technology adoption, healthcare organizations struggle to keep the pace of digital innovation while protecting sensitive data and critical applications against security threats. With greater volumes of sensitive patient data being compiled and shared across the healthcare ecosystem, security, and compliance are top of mind for health IT leaders who are tasked with preventing breaches both internally—on-premise data storage, and externally—cloud-based and connected device data. Heath IT leaders must ensure the right security is in place to protect sensitive data and applications at every layer to avoid large-scale data breaches like the Banner Health hack that affected 3.62 million people.
Embrace New Technologies
New technologies are changing the face of health IT. APIs help bridge legacy IT systems of record—such as EHRs— with modern systems of digital engagement—such as mobile applications—streamlining integration and enabling faster delivery of digital services. Opening back-end health IT systems via APIs plays a central role in transforming the digital patient experience, particularly for those with chronic conditions. APIs power applications and connect devices that enable better management of chronic conditions—such as diabetes—resulting in reduced hospitalizations, re-admissions, and emergency visits. APIs also make it possible for patients to use their mobile device to instantly access health information and services from anywhere, and for clinicians to access critical patient data and collaborate with other clinicians in real-time to deliver improved care. However, taking advantage of the opportunities created by APIs, with the scale, consistency, and security required to power digital health applications on a health system wide scale creates a need for enterprise-grade, full lifecycle API management.
FHIR and other healthcare APIs must be governed and secured—from API creation, control, and consumption, in order to accommodate cross-platform and cross organization data needs and secure data and applications to address evolving policies and standards.
By implementing solutions that manage the full API lifecycle, healthcare organizations can instantly deploy APIs with minimal IT effort, manage access to APIs, establish and enforce enterprise policies for API security and auto-scale the infrastructure up or down to run applications.
Using this approach, health systems can leverage APIs to provide patients seamless access to health records, lab results, chronic condition management tools, medication reminders, and other information and digital services via their mobile device to better engage patients and extend the point of care beyond the four walls of the hospital. Therefore, confidently unlocking data from IT systems of record using APIs, integrating data from affiliated and non-affiliated providers, labs, pharmacies, and other organizations across the healthcare ecosystem and doing so without jeopardizing security.
Embarking on the Next Wave of Digital Transformation
As the healthcare industry continues its digital transformation journey, healthcare organizations must establish the right foundation for digital innovation. From patient engagement tools to big data initiatives—such as population health management—the ability to securely and seamlessly share data across organizations, systems and devices is critical. Healthcare organizations will need to take a new approach to data integration and must understand and master the full API lifecycle to accelerate digital innovation and meet patient demands for new API-powered applications and services. SW
Joanna Gorovoy is the senior director of product and solutions marketing at Axway.
June2017, Software Magazine