Big data and interoperability: The keys to better healthcare interactions

Jim-Costanzo-2019-1This year’s CHIME’s Spring Forum was certainly thought provoking. Nordic’s CMO Dr. Craig Joseph gave a nice run-down of our sponsored session, “Keynote Conversations: Views from Big Tech,” including a recap of comments by Amazon Web Services General Manager Phoebe Yang, the Director of Global Healthcare Strategy and Solutions at Google Cloud Ashima Gupta, and Microsoft CMO Dr. David Rhew. Throughout the two days, I was struck by a set of recurring themes that centered around cooperating to build data infrastructure that supports an integrated health ecosystem.

One of my takeaways from the Nordic-sponsored session (and others) at CHIME is that, for the near future, healthcare organizations and health businesses will have to work together to deliver on the big promises of big data. There were even some hints that cooperation among the Big Tech (and health data) companies will be needed to achieve a level of interoperability that will change users’ experiences and outcomes (including better population health and personalized health). This was an interesting nod to the reality that the big problems in healthcare are larger than any one player, a message that frequently gets lost in the buzz around new entrants to the sector.

I also noted that several speakers mentioned interoperability as an essential part of creating the connections needed to deliver better care, particularly when it came to responding to COVID-19. Dr. Rhew, for instance, stated that all the Big Tech companies believe working together to deliver true interoperability – the kind that gives consumers more control over their data – will lead to better outcomes. And how timely, given that the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s first phase of information blocking rules went into effect April 5th.

I would go a step further and say the structured data in an EHR offer a chance to improve experience in some pretty meaningful ways. As Dr. Joseph mentioned in his blog, this goes beyond consumer satisfaction and physician burnout. It’s about using those data to design better interactions – human to human and human to technology – for everyone with a role in healthcare, across every touchpoint.

Simply giving people access to data isn’t enough, though. The authors of a recent JAMA article reported that of the patients who had accessed their health system’s portal, only 0.7% used available APIs to download data elements to their smartphone. I doubt that curiosity or lack of interest is the problem here. More than raw information, what people need is a process: the information needs to be presented with some context, a way of applying it to their current situation, and some structure for how to use it to make a decision. In other words, people want insights from the data that can lead to an action (or a series of actions). This is as true for those delivering care as it is for those receiving it. On the consumer engagement front, this means using the technologies that particular populations use and presenting it in a way they find compelling. Depending on where in the world you are, that might be as simple as a phone call or SMS message. We are excited about the work we and others are doing to build user-friendly, engaging healthcare delivery.

While the structured EHR data are the current focus, there should be even greater excitement about unstructured data. By the end of 2022, healthcare organizations will also have to share unstructured data from a patient’s record. The National Coordinator for Health IT Micky Tripathi recently encouraged businesses to use these data to build out B2B offerings focused on efficient healthcare delivery, both on the clinical and operational side.

We at Nordic agree, and have made big investments in performance optimization solutions to support our clients’ needs. We look forward to working towards achieving that goal of a better connected, and well designed, health ecosystem.

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Topics: EHR, featured

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