Whenever a new year arrives, it can spark interest in making predictions for the months ahead. What will the world look like at the end of 2017? It is possible the health care industry as a whole could undergo a number of significant changes before the year is out. Likewise, the steady march of technological improvements will continue. Smartphones will get their yearly refresh and the world will become a little more connected as the internet gains even more ubiquity. Amidst all this, EHR systems will also continue to advance toward new definitions of meaningful use.
Already, cloud technology has entered many aspects of everyday life. People expect their information to be available everywhere, on any device. Social networks can be accessed from anywhere, internet bookmarks travel with login credentials and anyone with a phone can sort through terabytes of their personal files while traveling anywhere with a 4G connection. And now, that same level of access is expected of health care records.
Integration isn’t an option for organizations looking to grow their revenue in 2017, it’s a requirement. Here’s why:
Integration at the organization level
EHR systems truly work well when they are able to share data between systems. According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, the goal of EHR interoperability is to ensure the right data is available at the right time. The four main aspects of an interoperable environment are:
- Communication between systems.
- User interaction with systems.
- Information management and processing.
- Consumer device integration.
These aspects of interoperability not only increase productivity by reducing the number of phone calls and faxes between organizations, it also reduces the risk of errors during transmission. These two aspects alone can save organizations lots of time and money. It may also increase incoming revenue because patients are more likely to visit organizations with quick, easy access to patient data.
Happe-Xchange, the “Integration as a Service” delivery model offered by Tangible Solutions, offers the highest level of interoperability, allowing organizations to share everything from lab orders and results to scheduling data. Happe-Xchange even makes it easy to submit records to state immunization registries.
Integration at the department level
Just as integration between organizations is important, so is integration between departments within the practice or hospital. A well-integrated EHR system ensures everyone who needs access to patient information is able to do so quickly. Throughout the revenue mid-cycle, different people and departments will need to access HL7 data, ICD-10 codes and information from other sources. Without the proper integration, this kind of complicated data transfer quickly becomes a tangled knot.
Integration at the patient level
Integration can also impact the level of interaction between organizations, doctors and patients. The more engaged patients are, the more likely they are to attend scheduled appointments, play an active role in their health and follow prescribed treatments. An automated appointment reminder system could positively impact your bottom line. It means that staff spend less time making calls to patients, face-time with patients is increased, and satisfaction rises. This leads to fewer missed appointments and patients lost to competition.
As mentioned above, EHRs work best when they are accessible from anywhere on any device. This includes consumer devices. Ankit Gogia, a digital solutions consultant, reported that even Apple’s iOS 10 supports HL7-compliant health records. In essence, this means users can securely store their CCD on their devices without needing much prior technical knowledge. If they can download an app from the store, they can save documents from their provider.
In 2017, EHR integration among organizations, departments and patients will continue to become a defining factor of modern health care. As more organizations adopt this technology, those that do not are bound to get left behind.