The ability to share patient data across disparate networks is the key to raising the standards on patient care delivery.
To understand the concept of integrated patient care, picture a utopian healthcare system that co-locates all of a patient’s healthcare providers in one building. The primary care physician (PCP) examines the patient and sends her down the hall to have blood drawn and tested. The patient is informed of the results and then sent to a specialist further down the hall for evaluation. Soon after, the provider team confers to determine a treatment plan and subsequently creates and schedules appointments based on that plan. Throughout the process, the team collaboratively tracks the patient’s progress on a commonly shared Electronic Health Record (EHR) system. The integrated, interoperable data provided by the system enables the patient’s provider to act quickly and provide consistent care with limited gaps in coverage.
In reality, a typical patient’s care providers are geographically distributed and employed by different organizations that use separate EHR systems. Therefore, a fully integrated and comprehensive health record does not exist for a typical patient, since many providers lack simple means to electronically share data. The lack of efficient data sharing leads to a number of suboptimal effects such as delays in diagnosis, gaps in care, increases in co-morbidity rates, increased costs to providers, and other problems that work against the patient’s best interests. With no means to share complete patient data, providers simply lack the capability to build an optimal healthcare plan for the patient.
Practitioners cannot be expected to create the best patient care plans when they lack comprehensive access to their patients’ healthcare information from across the spectrum of care. To remedy this problem, integrated healthcare systems provide clinicians with the ability to collaboratively build and evolve longitudinal records, which are essentially a timeline of patient data for observations, labs, and vitals. Ultimately, the goal of interoperability is to produce a longitudinal record for every patient and make that data accessible to clinicians at the time of care. Furthermore, interoperable data yields both individual and population-level benefits, as integrated and interoperable
Integrated healthcare systems offer a wealth of benefits, both on the patient and provider sides of the healthcare quality equation. Some of the key benefits to patients and providers include:
Doctors often look for simple solutions to try to explain and solve their patients’ problems. Appropriately, an EHR is just that - a relatively simple solution with a multitude of benefits for patients and providers. By pulling together integrated and interoperable data, they offer more accurate, faster, and more complete insights for individuals and populations - truly the future of healthcare. Learn how Ready Computing can help.
About the Author:
Michael LaRocca is the CEO of the New York-based health technology firm Ready Computing, which offers innovative services that improve patient care. Mike’ expertise includes a thorough understanding of the standards, protocols, technologies, and architectures required to successfully integrate healthcare data. He is passionate about the holistic patient treatment plans, and is very active in consortiums and working groups focused on healthcare data integration.