We live in a world of healthcare where the word “integration” is used often, and to describe enough different situations to make its context confusing.
Are you fully integrated?
Well, that depends on what you mean. For purposes here,we’ll use the Orchestrate Healthcare definition (and goal) of being fully integrated to mean data integration between all sources of healthcare data now and in the future, at least as far out as we can speculate.
Why should you integrate?
So now that we’ve defined what healthcare IT integration is, why should it be top on the priority list? Is it:
- Meeting regulatory requirements?
- Better patient engagement?
- Cost reduction?
Technically, integration can help in all of these cases. But, let’s be honest, and say that without reduced costs in today’s market, and with downward reimbursement pressure, and new value based models; nothing else will really matter. Our two best opportunities to reduce costs right now are to:
- increase productivity AND
- increase diagnostic efficiency
Notice we said “and”, not “or”. The best way to do both is to have the data necessary to make great diagnosis and provide it in a way that actually improves productivity.
What is, and isn’t, healthcare IT integration?
Integration isn’t simply integrating a new interface engine or facilitating connection to an HIE. Integration also includes devices that generate data from patient physiology that need to be captured and incorporated into the medical record. Many people today believe that the data points needed for most effective diagnosis (effective meaning accurate and with a reasonable cost) are:
- lab results
- patient input
- known patient history of disease, such as diabetes or COPD.
There is value in other pieces of information, but for average diagnosis in a physician’s office, these data types cover the need.
What should be included in your integration strategy?
Right now, your integration strategy should include capturing the data points mentioned above. Why? In the very near future, we are going to move toward Big Data one way or another. Many in healthcare don’t want to address Big Data due to its association with many IT projects promising great results, but under-delivering in reality. But Big Data has potential. That difference today is that Big Data is partially here now with growing databases in EMR and HIE. A real challenge for integration to overcome will happen when we add:
- all the aforementioned data
- then start including not only devices but genomics
- much greater patient input.
Will this influx kill productivity and defeat the purpose we had in the first place? We believe the answer comes from our ability to integrate and then display information derived from that data, rather than the data itself.
Is Big Data on the horizon?
Vinod Khosla, founder of Sun MicroSystems, has predicted that Big Data can replace the need for 80% of our doctors. His premise is that with all the available data and the right data visualization tools, a software program can turn massive quantities of disparate data points into patterns that can be visualized and people can interact with to create much better productivity and quality of diagnosis. Whether you believe Khosla’s vision or not, and you can read the article here http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2013/11/13/vinod-khosla-bets-big-on-big-data/ The fact remains that the potential for discovering risk, modeling it, predicting patient needs, doing better diagnosis and delivering lower cost care is very real with this type of solution. The question is then, what should we do about it?
At Orchestrate Healthcare, we have some of the very best engineers and consultants the market has to offer on integration strategies. We are the top KLAS rated vendor in this category, along with integration technology, implementation and staff augmentation. It is our belief that most hospitals and physician providers should continue creating data warehouses with organized data as this will either best facilitate:
- the future with Big Data and better visualization tools, or
- a future with current data sets augmented by tools that do predictive modeling and risk scoring.
Either way Orchestrate Healthcare improves patient outcomes and healthcare’s costs. The question is not whether we will leap forward but rather how big will that leap be?