Interoperability and the ability to easily exchange individual patient data between systems is a significant issue in the U.S. healthcare system. (It’s less a problem in other regions where countries have adopted single, nationwide health record systems.)
U.S. patients are very motivated to share their healthcare records with their healthcare clinicians for the betterment of their individual care, and healthcare providers are equally motivated to share their patient data — but only within their own healthcare system.
Why? Providers are concerned that sharing data outside of their system could harm their ability to retain patients in their own healthcare network.
The bottom line is, with an increasing number of patients suffering from comorbidities that require their personal physicians and specialists (neurologist, cardiologist, endocrinologist, etc.) to work together to diagnose and treat them, up-to-date, timely successfully, and complete medical data must be available to them in a consumable form.
In theory, Health Level 7 International (HL7), Fast Health Interoperability Resources (FHIR), and FHIR-based APIs were constructed to solve this problem and make medical data accessible, computable, and usable to improve outcomes.
Unfortunately, this is a significant challenge in the U.S. market, where there is not a unified patient ID and there are many concerns about PHI, security, and potential misuse of data.
The other factor is that electronic medical records (EMRs) and other healthcare IT projects are extremely expensive to execute and to update.
So, once a healthcare provider implements HL7, they usually do not upgrade on a timely basis. As such, a lot of our customers in the Medical Device and Life Sciences segments need to create and support numerous versions of these interfaces. Since billing is critical to the survival of U.S. Healthcare, billing data is where the integrated investment occurs.
For most of our customers, these interfaces are required but a nuisance to manage. Some third-party interface engines have emerged on the market, but to date, they have not been adopted by enough healthcare providers to reduce this burden on our customers.
Many healthcare providers seek to expand the use of their patient portals to include integrated data from medical device manufacturers and pharmacies via RFPs and contracts that specify a minimum set of data integration. They also want to add telehealth, mental health, and dietary consultations.
As they compete for patients, healthcare providers are starting to focus more energy on creating these highly functional, well-designed, and highly usable portals.
One key challenge is that EMR companies are slow to change. Since the cost for any provider to switch EMR vendors is high, healthcare providers have less influence over EMR vendors to establish strong patient portals.
This has led some healthcare providers to break ranks and begin funding their own internal efforts in this area.
Patient self-service portals can be useful in providing basic services for patients and their providers. Moreover, patient self-service portals are highly valued in healthcare systems because of the ease of basic engagement (scheduling, questions, test results, prescription renewals, etc.).
But such portals can also be a major frustration for patients that require multiple portals to manage their healthcare, each with separate passwords, links, and logins.
The lack of data integration across manufacturers of health monitoring devices (like wearables) and healthcare providers presents a challenge for this industry. Providers and patients want a single portal that integrates all their healthcare needs into a single view, with a high fidelity UIX and intuitive data visualization across an integrated timeline.