When it comes to housework, even though there are more time-saving tools than ever — dishwashers, washing machines, vacuum cleaners — families today spend about the same amount of time each week on housekeeping as they did in 1900.
Similarly, I look at all the technological improvements we’ve made in medicine over the last 20 years and wonder whether care has improved or efficiencies have been made. And a recent article got me thinking about technology integration and interoperability challenges that hospital systems are facing -- that may need to be solved sooner rather than later.
At this point, EHR and EMR adoption is widespread. There are very few medical contexts in which technology isn’t a major component of our medical practice. But the ongoing problems (like interoperability and workflow issues) presented by many technologies may be more challenging to solve than the initial implementation was.
For instance, this article looks at several hospital systems that are struggling with interoperability. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center uses three separate EHRs — one for oncology, one for ambulatory, and one for in-patient. Of course, up until recently, none of the systems talked to each other or were interoperable.
And as we move into a value-based era of medicine, the complications that present themselves in technology become even more challenging to manage.
The example of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center using three different EHRs in a fee-for-service era may make sense. But when medicine is value-based, it simply won’t work. Chronic, complex conditions (those that tend to be most expensive for hospitals to deal with) are often the ones that bridge multiple areas of the hospital system. And having a separate EHR for each area, that doesn’t integrate or “talk to” the others, presents costs and care coordination problems that will be unmanageable, if they aren’t already.
That hospital’s solution was to develop interoperability software (developed in house) for one EHR to communicate with the others.
Ed Mcallister, CIO at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center says that “although EHRs took healthcare in the right direction by digitizing information that was once in a folder in a drawer, they are still lacking and not the right model for documenting patient information or for sharing it. More so than a vendor product that would tie [EHRs] together… [we need a technology that would] pull the information at the point of care into a layer that is more tied to patient care than what an EHR is today”
In other words — EHRs certainly do not meet hospital system needs for medical collaboration and care coordination. And interoperability problems aren’t just about transmitting information from one EHR to the other. The issue is facilitating care for patients, even in the complex context we find ourselves. What healthcare is seeking now is true care coordination, technological support for medical collaboration, and (certainly) interoperability, so that healthcare providers can access key information about their patients.
iClickCare plays a part in meeting the demands for a system that supports true medical collaboration -- but we can't do it alone.
If your hospital system struggles with Health IT interoperability or care coordination challenges, hybrid store-and-forward telemedicine may be one piece of the puzzle. Get our pictorial white paper report on it here:
Photo by Daniel Wirtz on Unsplash