The Need for System Integration in Healthcare

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The Need for System Integration in Healthcare

In the constantly expanding healthcare industry, the amount of data rapidly rises. We must develop means of storing, sharing, and using it in the best possible way to ensure fast and efficient healthcare delivery. We can achieve this through interoperability: the ability of a system to communicate information with other systems. Healthcare system integration is a must in an industry in which patients can see multiple providers and have to deal with insurance companies, the government, and potentially several other organizations.

With the rise of electronic health records, which serve purposes beyond simply storing medical data, this universal healthcare interoperability never seemed closer. However, a specific set of challenges follow data integration, and we’ll make sure to explore challenges and solutions.

What Is Integrated Health?

We can define data integration as combining data stored in multiple sources. In healthcare, it encompasses collaboration between different care providers and their facilities to maximize the clinical benefits. With a well-rounded approach that considers medical information, treatment options, and medication, the patient will receive improved and more efficient care than in the absence of integrated data. This approach also incorporates mental and social conditions. Therefore, it becomes possible to devise a comprehensive plan for the patient’s treatment with an integrated healthcare system.

The Road to Integrated Healthcare

There are many benefits to the integration of care. From the reduction of costs to more informed and complete care delivery, integration is essential for patients and providers. It improves clinical workflow by incorporating software like electronic health records, keeping all the relevant information in one place. By combining mental health, which can utilize telehealth services, medical professionals can track a patient’s mental deterioration and suggest treatment options from afar. Consequently, this information will be readily available through integrated healthcare systems to care providers who help the patient down the road.

An effective care program with integration puts the patient first, ensuring that there is no disconnected segment of the care delivery. You can also ensure that your medical organization takes care of the following things to improve operational workflow:

  • Hire and entrust a qualified individual with identifying and incorporating the missing information into the patient’s data.
  • Connect with behavior clinics for complete healthcare system integration. That way, an organization can collaborate and coordinate care.
  • Try and refer the patient to organizations in your network that utilize electronic health records. That way, all the relevant information will be kept in one place.
  • Get your patients activated and engaged in their healthcare delivery. Activated patients drive better clinical results.

Reduction of Cost

There are more benefits than merely improved healthcare delivery. A team of people collaborating and treating an individual’s physical and mental conditions is bound to bring optimal results. However, it also helps reduce the costs of treatment.

Based on a study with 20 million people with commercial insurance, American Hospital Association concluded that medical and behavioral healthcare integration could save $26-$48 billion annually. Integration of health services is also more effective for patients suffering from multiple chronic conditions. For the proper treatment of ongoing conditions, medical devices and wearables go a long way in collecting patient vitals and relevant information. In other words, devices that help us acquire, store and share medical information significantly improve clinical outcomes. That is why all those devices must be appropriately developed and implemented in an integrated healthcare system.

Data Integration Challenges in Healthcare

This process of achieving complete data integration isn’t without its challenges. In the peculiar healthcare industry, where providers are dealing with sensitive information such as protected health information (PHI), there are additional challenges compared to other sectors. Further, data protection is doubly important given that healthcare has been the number one target of cyber attacks for the past twelve years. That is why we must take extra precautions when completing system integration in healthcare. Below is a non-exhaustive list of some of the industry’s hurdles:

HIPAA Compliance and Standards

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 mandates how to store, share, and manage health data. From there, it considers the much-needed security of patient information, and the HL7 standard dictates how to transfer clinical and administrative health data from point A to point B. Ensure that your organization is HIPAA-compliant and follows all the necessary guidelines.

Constantly Evolving Mandates

The healthcare industry is constantly evolving, presenting a challenge to healthcare data integration. New technology, new mandates, and legislations regularly affect the format in which data is stored and shared. Make sure you have someone on-premise to keep track of all the changes and implement them into your organizational workflow.

Security Risks

We have briefly touched upon this: the healthcare industry has been the number one target of cybercriminals for the past 12 years. But malware and ransomware are not the only threats. Data sharing could lead to unintentional corruption. A corrupted data set can lead to numerous complications in an integrated healthcare system. Ensure you educate your employees about HIPAA, HL7, and other relevant standards and that they receive training on handling sensitive information.

Let Vicert Help You With System Integration

Integrated health gives us many benefits. Clinicians and medical personnel, psychologists, home caregivers, behavioral professionals, and any involved entities can collaborate to deliver improved and comprehensive treatment. This drives better clinical results and reduces costs of care. With telemedicine solutions, all of this can subsequently be done from afar.

At Vicert, we can develop and implement various solutions: from electronic health records and remote patient monitoring to system integration in healthcare. Feel free to check out some of our solutions yourself, and book a call with us to learn more!