The most progressive healthcare organizations are implementing a new vision – using information and events occurring in the course of care to recognize trends and patterns, and to act upon them immediately. They are able to influence outcomes rather than to react to them after they occur. It’s what we call Event-Driven Healthcare. But none of this is possible without the cornerstone of integration and interoperability.
Integration is Job One
The importance of integration in healthcare is nothing new. Dr. David J. Brailer, MD, PhD, a former United States public health official, perhaps best known as the first “health information czar”, summarized it this way in 2004:
“Unless interoperability is achieved, physicians will still defer IT investments, potential clinical and economic benefits won’t be realized, and we will not move closer to badly needed healthcare reform in the US.”
Some healthcare organizations are clearly at the forefront of this sea change. Take for example University of Chicago Medicine or Vanderbilt University Medical Center which are advancing the way clinical decision support is used for improving outcomes.
But now, even nine years later, most healthcare organizations are still at the nascent stages of the curve. Most remain fixed in an era of inflexibility that leads to service delivery issues and skyrocketing cost of healthcare.
Healthcare Data is Getting Bigger – and Faster
The volume, velocity, and variety of data involved in patient care are growing. There is an ever-expanding number of medical devices sensing and sending clinical information, and clinicians are using mobile devices at the point of care. They need to have the right information, at the right time, in the right place, and in the right context for making the proper decisions about patient care.
The fact that a patient is allergic to a medication does a clinician no good if that information is locked somewhere in the bowels of an EMR.
Short-Term Payback, Long-Term Transformation
With hundreds of business and clinical systems, the typical healthcare organization has thousands of connecting points. In a traditional environment, this means countless hard-coded point-to-point interfaces that are inflexible and expensive to change.
By integrating systems with a 21st century platform, the number, cost, and degree of maintenance of systems interfaces are reduced dramatically. And most importantly, critical clinical information and events are visible throughout the network and available in real time for clinicians to take action on.
Any Journey Begins With a Single Step
Transforming the healthcare industry, or a single organization, surely will not happen overnight. It takes keen long range vision to progress along the maturity path – to connect systems, authenticate information, operationalize data and events, and establish a secure social collaboration network. But clinical value and ROI can be achieved at each stage.
Mercy Health, a large hospital system based in St. Louis, started with such a long-range plan and began its journey with system integration, speeding time to market and reducing cost for system updates. Ultimately, with real-time information flowing freely across their network, they now monitor multiple data sources and trends over time to identify patients in need of immediate life-saving intervention.
In healthcare, the availability, accuracy, and context of clinical information can make the difference between life and death. It all begins with integration.