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Healthcare data integration is vital to the success of your practice. Employer Health Networks, High Value Networks and Clinical Integrated Networks (CINs) need to share data back and forth to facilitate patient care. 

However, there are tremendous variations between practices, hospitals and third parties regarding systems and platforms being used for healthcare data sharing and integration. Different networks use different electronic medical records (EMRs), practice management (PM) and patient relationship management (PRM) systems.

Getting different systems to communicate with each other is key to seamless data collection, delivery and sharing. Integration seeks to reconcile the multitude of data sources, systems and devices for better patient care and practice revenues.

What Is Healthcare Data?

Healthcare data can include a patient’s medical history, health assessments, diagnoses, treatments, clinical observations, immunization records, imaging reports, lab results and more. Most of that data is both personally identifying information (PII) and personal health information (PHI).

This data is typically a part of records kept by various healthcare providers. If the records get stored and shared in a digital format, they are electronic health records (EHRs). A medical practice keeps these records in private, on-premise servers or in the cloud with security provided by a third-party vendor.

Privacy laws such as HIPAA protect most of this data, requiring limited access and sharing for patient care, with the patient’s permission. An organization has to balance the need for regulatory compliance with the need for accessibility to facilitate patient care.

Patients have an individual right of access to their healthcare data. Labs need to share results with physicians and physicians need to share records with hospitals. Portability of healthcare information across systems is crucial to keep patient care flowing.

Breaches involving PHI and PII can cause irreconcilable fracturing of trust and both direct and indirect financial losses. Keeping data accessible to the right people while maintaining appropriate security measures is a must.

The Merits of Integration

Integration of healthcare data into a comprehensive system can make your practice run more smoothly. There are multiple challenges to connecting different systems and networks for smooth data flows, but the benefits are undeniable.

Integration opportunities

Fully integrating your healthcare data means connecting all of your databases and referral processes together. The goal is to create easy and secure data sharing that complies with regulations and streamlines patient care.

You may already have several systems in place that can benefit from better accessibility through integration:

EHRs make it possible to keep patient history, diagnoses, doctor notes, lab results and more in a centralized location. Making your EHR compatible with other systems can be the first step toward integration.

Integrating practice management software with your EHR and billing department helps to facilitate automation of specific tasks, like collating procedures by diagnostic code for reimbursement.

What about matching patients with your practice schedule? Integrating patient engagement systems allows for the handling of repetitive tasks like texted or emailed patient appointment reminders. Linking a portal allows patients to provide updates to their records, like insurance or address information.

Integrating multiple data sources gives you a comprehensive data set, establishing a powerful position from which your practice or group can negotiate with payers and service providers. This empowers your providers to make more informed decisions and achieve better patient outcomes, leading to satisfied patients and the potential for monetary incentives.

Integration benefits

If digitization of your records into an EHR caused duplication, or errors made in a manual system are present, you may have bad data that will need to be cleaned up so your integration can succeed. However, you can clean digital data prior to distribution. The accuracy of your data is key to achieving optimal results for both patients and providers.

Patients who see their primary care physician, then consult a radiologist, and finally a specialist can end up with gaps in their EHR records if the lab doesn’t have access to share test results. This missing data or “scattered” data can cause issues with patient followup care. By integrating internal and external data sources, you can merge and improve the accuracy of your patient records.

For CINs, integration can be invaluable to the benefits of population health, business analytics and referral management. By removing bad, duplicate or mismanaged data, you can create a cohesive medical data system that acts as a foundation for every step you take.

Multiple systems, platforms, users and devices can make getting everyone on the same page difficult. Having to postpone an early morning patient procedure because a vital piece of health data is in another location that doesn’t open for two hours can frustrate everyone. With integration, data access is instantaneous and secure.

iPaaS for Integration

An integration Platform as a Service can remove the traditional burdens of data sharing, eliminating the burden of expense and labor that building a customized integration for data connections entails. Choosing the right IT partner is critical. You need a tested iPaaS solution that will keep your incoming and outgoing data accurate, accessible and secure.

Built as a hub and spoke system, iPaaS is a simpler, more affordable, scalable and flexible option. Using iPaaS lets you use a single connection to the cloud-based hub. From this centralized location, you send requests out to and receive data from anywhere else.

Using an iPaaS solution to connect your EHR, PRM and PM systems and integrate them with every other medical provider and vendor you work with can help you control spend, improve patient satisfaction, and fill in the data gaps that can negatively impact patient care.

Tangible provides a complete iPaaS solution for data integration and provides a solid foundation from which you can deploy analytics and patient experience initiatives to maximize revenues and improve patient outcomes. Contact us today.

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