Importance of Interoperability in Healthcare Industry

In an ideal scenario, caregivers would like to be able to share health information with one another. Driven by a need, if a patient were to shift to a new caregiver, the later would at once like to have access to the medication, lab reports, discharge summaries etc. This would only be possible if electronic health records could communicate with each other through an information exchange infrastructure. This is not only going to improve the quality of care but also increase the efficiency levels besides saving healthcare costs. The current scenario is far from ideal because of lack of interoperability of EHRs and exchange infrastructure.

Healthcare software development services, Healthcare software testing, healthcare software programmersFor the Healthcare industry to take the giant leap and reach the state its leaders envisage, a break-through on interoperability is a must. Unless handled on a priority basis, this a stumbling block which every big IT initiative in this industry will hit at some stage. It is only by bringing in fluidity in the information flow that the industry stands to draw the biggest benefit. Otherwise, the healthcare software development services industry cannot expect to bring about a transformation by just working in an efficient manner in silos. Real benefits will be harvested only with seamless data exchange. Collaboration is imperative and so is safety and security of data that is shared across the industry. It will not only enable providers to manage their workflows better in their clinics but also make it possible to send and receive healthcare related data across disparate EHRs used by various other healthcare setups.

To make interoperability a reality, massive amount of work needs to be done in a synchronized manner. Public-private coalition holds the cue here and the pace of adoption depends on strict adherence to the agreed upon national standards with no allowance made to variations. It is only when disparate EHR products and HIEs agree to strictly follow the same standards that the capability can be achieved. States being awarded grants to setup Health information exchanges is definitely a step taken in the right direction since it will provide the backbone for interoperability. There are concerns however shared from some of the stakeholders who feel that too much of emphasis on regulations while setting up or running HIEs will only jeopardize things more. The key areas to be handled here include Patient matching and finding solutions to the variances of safety and privacy rules followed across states. It thus calls for innovative approaches to work around these issues rather than strict adherence to policies which might eventually result in deadlocks.

On the EHR front, realizing the need of the hour, a group of otherwise competing vendors has decided to get their act together to promote their data exchange standards to facilitate information transfer. The new alliance is expected to result in:

  • Cross entity Patient linking and matching
  • Patient consent and data access matching
  • Patient record locator and query Services

This is an initiative which moving forward is expected to draw in more vendors, especially the ones which intend to be in the business for the long haul, since there is no future without interoperability. The most important outcome of such an initiative is that it will expedite the process of drawing a map to reach the destination in an efficient manner. This also will bring about a change in the landscape for vendors whose products will now have to compete in terms of their adaptability towards cross-vendor exchange and interoperability.

The impetus provided by the Federal grant might have got the adoption of HIEs rolling but moving forwards these organizations will have to figure out ways of being financial afloat beyond the grant money. On the other hand the adoption of HIEs will pick pace only if the standards and certifications are concrete and get defined such that interoperability is completely achieved. It would result in any EHR product receiving data to be able to work on it straightaway.

We provide Healthcare application development and Healthcare software testing services. If you would like to talk to one of our software testers or one of our certified healthcare software programmers, please get in touch with us at Mindfire Solutions.

Major Changes in the EHR Landscape

The universal adoption of Electronic Health Records in a Meaningful way is the backbone on which all Healthcare reforms are hinged. Based on figures shared by HHS, incentive payments under the Medicare and Medicaid Meaningful Use programs have reached more than half of all eligible professionals, and 80 percent of eligible hospitals. Expected to be responsible for better healthcare outcomes, it is the implementation which has been the cause of a lot of bane. Apart from the operational changes that are required to be brought in, the whole process takes a lot of financial toll on healthcare setups. There is infact a strong belief which is gaining ground that the net cost outweighs the benefits of using an EHR. The independent physicians rather than the employed physicians are more likely to hold this view. Another complaint held by the physicians’ fraternity is that the EHRs have been built without keeping their requirements in mind. Some physicians have actually gone to the extent to build EHR products to exactly suit their clinical requirements and also to handle the common issues they otherwise face in using the standard products available.

Healthcare software development, HealthCare Application testing, Healthcare software developersBut do physicians actually have the know-how to design EHR Systems? The answer to this question is not a simple one. At the end of the day, EHR systems are used by physicians and so, they are in a position to share the real-time issues which crop up during usage. But because they face issues in say handling certain features or are in the business of providing care it does not automatically qualify them to build new healthcare IT systems for many reasons. For e.g.

  • Some of the features which they otherwise find troublesome or, even worse, as stumbling blocks to their normal flow of work might actually be highly essential ones; identified and implemented in the system based on industry based practices.
  • It might also so happen that the features have been included to ensure interoperability with other systems for data exchange
  • There is a high possibility of the complaints having arisen because of the inconvenience of physicians in adapting to a new workflow more than anything else.

As a solution, some of the physicians have been recommended to go the open source way in which they get in touch with Health IT experts and take their help them to make changes in standard EHR systems to meet their requirements keeping in mind adherence to the Meaningful Use criteria all-throughout.

The market for EHR adoption was $20 billion in 2012 and is expected to grow in the coming 2 years. However, the market of EHRs is likely to undergo some major change this year. Federal push for Meaningful Use led to a race among HealthCare software development vendors to create standard EHR products. They did not initially bother to customize their systems to meet the requirements of individual setups. Over a period of time this approach led to various complaints to the vendors. However, with the focus of the vendors more towards selling their products and reaching out to more clients, severe issues pertaining to implementation, support and specialty features, to name a few, started talking a toll on the performance of healthcare setups . This tolerance has reached a boiling point in 2013 with healthcare setups actively looking to switch over to EHR systems offered by vendors who were willing to address their concerns on an ongoing basis.

For the vendors, the short-term revenue growth was triggered mainly by the Federal stimulus. For a sustained long-term market they will be required to focus their energies on usability and interoperability. A survey done across industry experts reflected that eventually most of the EHR vendors are likely to acquired, merged or thrown out of business ; simply because most of them were targeted at the retail mass. As high cost of implementation independent practices are expected to merge with larger setups i.e. hospitals. This is bound to have an impact on the number of vendors in business. Pressed by deadlines hospitals will be compelled to quickly look out for vendors which provide an integrated platform with stable functionalities to ensure ease of use and interoperability across affiliated physicians. Thus the times ahead auger well for those EHR vendors which provide holistic and easily customizable systems and are quick to resolve issues which their clients face.

We provide Healthcare application development and HealthCare application testing services. If you would like to talk to one of our software testers or one of our certified Healthcare software developers, please get in touch with us at Mindfire Solutions.

Why is the push for Mobility high in Healthcare?

MHealth which is essentially delivery of healthcare services using mobile devices. Given the pace at which smartphones, tablets etc. have pervaded are day-to-day lives, it is normal to see the traction building around the mHealth industry. Use of mobility is expected to increase the time spent by Physicians to address their patients besides allowing them to take real time decisions. Their energies, a lot of which was earlier spent going through a large amount of paperwork, can now be entirely channelized towards providing care. But there seems to be something very essential which is missing in the manner in which the industry is shaping up. Currently, the number of companies investing in developing effective apps and gadgets is growing by the days. But what is missing unfortunately is the focus towards interoperability. Unfortunately, this is likely to lead to people to a state where they have to deal with multiple stakeholders to meet their needs – a state not very different from what it has been all throughout except that a lot of paper work/manual processes are going to be replaced by electronic processes.

Top Healthcare software development companies, healthcare software developer, Medical Software DevelopmentThe use of Mobile health for delivering customized healthcare services seems to have significantly gone up. A case in point is that of apps being used for treatment adherence. It has been noticed that an individual’s belief system related to the illness and the prescribed medication determines the degree of adherence that a patient shows. Changing the belief system requires application of numerous psychological techniques. Mobile apps have been found to provide an effective channel for executing those initiatives. It has been noticed that information gathered during enrollment – which includes personal data and disposition towards treatment, and collected subsequently, provide matter that help in finalizing and implementing the correct interventions. Given the nature and seriousness of a disease there are also specialized apps available to track vitals aspects of patients with some allowing patients and physicians to hold video conferences.

Recent developments in the healthcare industry have set very high standards for the providers. Not only are they expected to operate at higher levels of efficiency, but also achieve capabilities of superior care in an environment which is highly regulated. All these factors put together have catalyzed the adoption of mobility in healthcare. Providers have started looking at mHealth as a means to achieve the required levels of effectiveness in the setups. The push for mobility is also because of the following factors:

  • Desire among patients to get more involved in their care
  • High number of cases of chronic illness among the ageing population
  • Shortage of resources in healthcare in general
  • Issues related to communication

Healthcare providers have always had to jostle with issues related to communication. Paper work made it the most difficult. Advent of electronic systems reduced the problems to a considerable extent as the stakeholders were not anymore expected to physically carry or reach out to artifacts to get the required information. However, mHealth took things to a different level altogether. Since Physicians and other hospitalists are required to be mobile, usage of devices which could enable them to access information on the move increased their productivity tremendously. Given the volume and the dynamic nature of healthcare data that gets generated and needs to be transmitted, mHealth makes it possible for anywhere access to relevant data with high reduction in the chances of error.

Among devices, Tablets, owing to the larger screen size are favored by physicians. It offers them with outmost convenience to view and analyze reports and images. The important thing to keep in mind while providing mobility solutions in the healthcare industry is that, there is a high level of intersection between the needs at the end user level and at enterprise . The benefits accrued at the enterprise level have a rub off effect on the end users. For e.g. improvements made in efficiency and quality of care through the right mHealth interventions at healthcare setups result in better safety and care outcome for the patients. You can hire developers from top Healthcare software development companies in india who can help you build mobile apps within allocated budgets and time schedules.

We provide Medical software development services. If you would like to discuss with a certified healthcare software developer from our team, please get in touch with us at Mindfire Solutions.

How effective are Clinical Decision Support Systems?

It is not just by actively using electronic health record systems or patient portals for example can the true value of IT be harnessed in a healthcare setup. Healthcare testing services India can equally help in this regard. In order to bring about a marked improvement in healthcare outcomes, IT systems have to contribute significantly in the following three areas:

  • Clinical decision support
  • Clinical workflow support
  • Care coordination

Medical software development, Hire Healthcare software developers, Healthcare testing services IndiaFrom managing medication, improving documentation, enhancing communication – both among providers and between providers and patients, health IT can equip physicians to provide evidence-based preventive and chronic care. Multiple surveys done across medical setups to understand the usage of such tools have shown positive outcomes. For example one of the researches indicated that using clinical decision support predictive tools along with electronic health records can bring about a considerable decrease in the use of antibiotics for infections related to the respiratory track. This results in reducing the cost of treatment and also chances of over treatment. The facility to using alerts in workflows has been found to result in highly valuable outcomes. EHR alerts have made it possible for physicians to facilitate end-of-life discussions with patients who are terminally ill. It makes it possible for them to understand the preferences of such patients before they are admitted or in crisis mode. CDS alerts have also shown wonderful results in reducing the need of conducting repeated tests in cases of heart failure. The norm otherwise is to generally perform multiple tests in order to measure the severity of heart failure.

The cost incurred in implementing an EHR system is quiet high. The system offers multiple functionalities to its users. However, what is being seriously debated is the possibility of EHRs to achieve both – reduction in care costs and in parallel improve care for patients. Research done in this area has again shown that providers can expect the best return on investment if they are using the clinical decision support provisions in EHRs. The solutions provided by Clinical Decision Support systems are used across multiple areas. Some examples include diagnosis decision support, drug databases, care plans, disease/drug reference tools, surveillance software etc.  All these tools need to be aligned both with the EHR and the clinical workflow to be completely active. Given its relevance, it is not a surprise that the emerging healthcare models like ACOs (Accountable Healthcare Organizations) have high demand for Clinical decision support systems. In order to draw the maximum possible benefit out of the systems, ACOs are gearing up by developing capabilities in terms of trained workforce who know the art of optimally using them to their benefit. For physicians, using CDS brings about a whole lot difference in their daily activities. Rather than having to refer to notebooks and keep in mind information related to drugs and health conditions, using the support tools helps them save a lot of time and make better decisions during encounters. CDS systems are broadly divided into two categories- Standalone & Accessory. The standalone software runs on a computing platform and provides diagnostic or treatment recommendations. Accessory software on the other hand supports the functionality of a particular medical device.

One of the challenges on adapting CDS to clinical workflows has been that of adjusting to its sensitivity. The alert fatigue surely seems to be an area of major concern. Having to deal with large number of alerts, at any given point in time, makes it very difficult to respond to the most urgent ones.  This has resulted in some serious consequences leading to loss of life in many cases. Today’s healthcare environment is undergoing a lot of change. To expect physicians to cope up with the demands without using efficient CDS systems seems highly impossible. However relevant changes need to be made to reduce the obvious loopholes which exist. Infact all healthcare IT systems generally offer multiple functionalities. Barring the ones which have to be mandatorily used, the trick for a provider is always to identify and use those functionalities which have a higher likelihood of improving healthcare outcomes with least negative fallouts.

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