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EHR Interoperability to Transform Healthcare in Decade Ahead

Centralized, cloud-based systems will achieve EHR interoperability making care delivery more efficient in the near future.

EHR Interoperability

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- A new report from the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions examined ways EHR centralization, integration, and interoperabilty will likely transform the healthcare industry in the next 10 years.

Researchers conducted a crowdsourcing simulation with 33 healthcare experts worldwide — including physician and nurse leaders, public policy leaders, and IT experts — to develop specific use cases for the design of digital hospitals in ten years.

“Many of these use case concepts and technologies already are in play,” wrote authors. “Hospital executives should be planning how to integrate technology into newly built facilities and retrofit it into older ones. A well-crafted strategy can lay the foundation for future investments in care delivery, talent, data management, and cyber security.”

Experts focused on the ways new technologies can reduce inefficiencies and improve patient health outcomes.

Authors stated centralization will play a critical role in advancing care delivery. However, hospitals presently lag behind other industries in utilizing centralized data and command centers. This delay is due in part to the tendency for hospitals to work in siloes.

“They produce large but discreet data, which can be difficult to collect, collate, and use for making actionable decisions,” noted authors.

Emerging technologies will assist with the move to more collaborative, longitudinal care. Specifically, cloud-based EHR systems pulling different sources will likely become commonplace in the near future.

“Coupled with artificial intelligence, this can create process efficiencies and improve decision-making necessary to boost quality,” they wrote. “Data can be better integrated into daily care, and patients can play a role in curating their own data.”

Already, some health IT companies – including Epic Systems – have begun offering hosted, cloud-based EHR services. In August, University of California San Diego Health moved from their traditional data storage centers to a more secure, affordable cloud-based Epic EHR repository.

“Comprehensive, real-time patient data at the point of care can improve patient outcomes, which means that sharing standardized data is likely to be part of future care delivery,” authors maintained.

EHR data will include genetic, social, and behavioral patient information as well as financial, clinical, and administrative records. Integrating a wide range of data into patient EHRs will offer caregivers a full picture of a patient’s mental and physical health.

“This information can be proactively presented to clinicians, patients, and caregivers in an easy-to-understand format that seamlessly fits into their daily activities,” stated authors. “Patients can own their data, add to and edit their health records, and proactively communicate with their caregivers.”

In addition to clinical care, operational processes will also undergo significant changes in the next ten years. Blockchain will be especially useful for enabling interoperability in healthcare and improving security for health information exchanges (HIEs).

“For example, each time caregivers provide patients with a service, they update their patients’ health data on a blockchain-enabled HIE,” wrote authors. “Each blockchain member has a private key, which is secure, and a public key that acts as a visible identifier.”

“Because of these permission layers,” they continued, “patients can limit data access and share only the relevant parts of their medical records with their caregivers or other clinicians.”

These and other changes will revolutionize data sharing, cyber security, patient care delivery, and clinical efficiency.

The Statewide Health Information Network for New York (SHIN-NY) also recently released an outline of its projected evolution in the coming years.

The 2020 SHIN-NY roadmap set forth five strategies to more effectively support value-based care and achieve 100 percent hospital participation across New York over the next three years. These strategies push for new performance-based contracting, policy changes, and health data exchange advocacy. 

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