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Healthcare Pros Focus on Patient-Centered Interoperability

Healthcare industry experts are continuing to point to interoperability and health information exchange to drive patient-centered care.

By Sara Heath

Health information exchange and interoperability will play significant roles in boosting patient-centered care, say speakers at the 13th Annual World Health Care Conference, a press release explains.

In a pre-conference workshop, “The Demand for Secure Interoperable Health Information Exchange: Options and Opportunities 2016,” representatives from the National Association for Trust Exchange (NATE), DirectTrust, and the Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission discussed how HIE and interoperability will help the industry boost patient access to health data.

Specifically, the speakers discussed how patient involvement in HIE is critical for better patient-centered care. According to NATE’s CEO, Aaron Seib, the patient is the primary individual who can facilitate full care coordination and health information exchange.

“Ultimately, the consumer is the only person who is a part of every encounter that they have,” Seib said. “And if they are going to have 100% information awareness to share with their next provider and to participate and actually partner with all their caregivers, not just the ones that are in the HIEs, not just the ones that are using a particular EMR, but every provider that they’re going to get care from, we have to enable them to get data in the app of their choice.”

According to David Kibbe, MD, MBA, CEO of DirectTrust, interoperability could move in a patient-centered direction very quickly. Because healthcare professionals consistently seek systems that integrate the patient into the care team, systems are moving in that direction as well.

“I do think there is great potential, and things might happen very fast,” Kibbe noted. “This idea of a shared medical record, that is in the control of the individual, that literally drives patients in a different way through the medical system, could emerge almost overnight.”

Seib echoed those predictions, saying that patient involvement in interoperable technologies was on the horizon.

“I think we as a nation have been working on the right priorities, in the right order: make this work for doctors, make the data available to consumers, let the consumers decide how to use that data,” Seib stated. “I believe that three years from now, we’ll see the portion of the population that is most burdened by disease using tools to better manage their care and better partner with their doctors.”

Several HIEs are already working to advance patient-centeredness. According to a recent press release, the Great Lakes Health Connect (GLHC) has expanded its store of patient documents and advanced directives.

By partnering with Michigan-area health organizations, including Making Choices Michigan and Spectrum Health’s Next Steps program, GLHC will storing more patients’ advanced directives, allowing more physicians to seamlessly access information on patients’ care preferences.

Advanced directives are important documents regarding patients’ care preferences as they approach end of life. These documents are vital for patient-centered care as they inform providers of what kinds of treatments patients do and do not want, even when the patient may not be able to communicate them.

GLHC has reportedly worked with healthcare providers across the state to build their repository of advanced directives, explaining to patients the benefits of having this kind of information accessible by different providers across Michigan.

Both Making Choices Michigan and Spectrum’s Next Steps program have worked to explain to patients the importance of advanced care planning, and have assigned certified facilitators to work with patients to develope the directives.

According to experts from the Next Steps program, keeping advanced care directives in an HIE like GLHC’s ensures that patient wishes will be adhered to regardless of where they receive care.

“As health care providers, we need to get to a point where our approach to care begins with the patient’s wishes,” said Next Steps’ Rose Seavolt, RN, BSN, CCP. “Individuals and providers need to understand the tremendous value of first, having a care plan and second, assuring that it is available wherever the patient shows up for services. The GLHC registry makes that happen.”

Leaders at GLHC say making this kind of interoperability regarding advanced care data is one of its main goals.

“Housing advanced care plans within the GLHC registry helps safeguard patient’s wishes and assures that the patient receives high-quality healthcare even when they cannot make their own choices. It guarantees that patient preferences remain at the center of the healthcare decision-making process.”




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