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The COVID 19 Effect on Interoperability and the Healthcare Infrastructure

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For a long time, we’ve understood that digital healthcare infrastructure has the power to reshape health systems by enhancing efficiencies, lowering costs, and expanding access to care. Digital health enables patients and health professionals to receive and provide health care services from the comfort of their own homes. It also decreases the number of forms that need to be filled out by both patients and health professionals. As we have seen, it allows the public to follow public health developments in their locality using their smartphones. 

Interoperability, or the secure sharing of health data across healthcare systems and organizations, is widely acknowledged as part of the answer to improving patient outcomes. Due to the sheer amount of data handled and the significance of that data in making patient care decisions, the necessity for an interoperable healthcare system has become even more apparent, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. The core preserve of interoperability is ensuring that all electronic health record systems (EHRs) “speak” to one another, allowing an emergency room in Montana to look up a sick tourist’s medical information in Birmingham. 

COVID-19 Reinforces the Value of Interoperability 

The nation’s response to COVID-19 was considerably aided by an interoperable healthcare system following the shift from conventional paper and faxing data transmission methods. A patient with symptoms, for example, would visit their physician, who would have rapid access to their whole medical record to address any underlying issues. This scenario would save time spent looking for records while reducing or eliminating duplicate testing. When a patient with COVID-19 transitions from general care to emergency care, it’s critical to make quick judgments and keep track of test data. Providers’ ability to offer quick and effective patient care significantly improves due to shared data. 

One result of the COVID-19 pandemic has been improved interoperability in healthcare data exchange, which may eventually help enhance the delivery of treatment and its cost-effectiveness in the United States. Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, the transmission of patient data has seen unparalleled innovation. Long-term, costly IT and interoperability projects were paused or let go in favor of short-term, high-impact projects that addressed the more pressing need for efficient information flow across health providers and systems. The most important of these projects have centered on engaging patients in remote locations, such as their homes while using the information gained to enhance personalized care delivery. 

Before the pandemic, electronic exchange of basic diagnostic information with public health and other practitioners for tracking purposes did not exist. In the face of decreasing COVID-19 instances, direct messaging capabilities are still being used to replace traditional fax workflows. The telemedicine industry has since grown from a $3 billion to a $250 billion industry. 

Unlike prior triggers to data sharing in healthcare, the pandemic drove all parties to work together quickly to find solutions. To face the near-term problems posed by COVID-19, healthcare organizations were forced to abandon administrative traditions that had previously hampered more efficient data sharing in order to tackle those obstacles.  As a consequence of this new partnership, providers and their IT partners have discovered new ways to improve data sharing efficiency, even beyond COVID-19, while meeting the market’s expanding desire for an interoperable data environment. 

Interoperability Success: Building Internal solutions 

During the early phases of the pandemic, providers leveraged their current IT capabilities to quickly address immediate needs for increased data interoperability. 

Deploying of electronic signing solutions. Providers, for instance, encountered a sudden need for contactless patient permission as they established drive-through COVID-19 testing facilities and enabled telemedicine virtually overnight. Even though electronic health records (EHRs) could handle conventional consent protocols, COVID-19 demanded innovative solutions to eliminate the usage of paper or shared signature tablets. Providers looked internally to examine their already existing electronic signature solutions, such as DocuSign. Most patients were already acquainted with these solutions because they were already in use in most administrative sections of their organizations. Providers expanded their use of e-signing solutions to care settings throughout the pandemic. Several providers used preexisting EHR interoperability capabilities, including Direct secure messaging, to swiftly construct a “closed-loop” electronic signature transaction and bridge the data-sharing divide. 

Reduced reliance on manual health processes. Another obstacle that providers encountered was a dependence on manual operations, exemplified by the switch to telecommuting for non-clinical workers. Yet, as with patient consent protocols, it was discovered that the EHR’s interoperability tools could be leveraged to handle patient record requests. 

Before the pandemic, most leading EHR vendors provided on-demand and secure access to medical information through trusted networks. Given the size of the participating medical organizations, providers who used these EHRs already could electronically access and share patient records shared amongst them. 

New Frontiers in e-Prescription 

With e-prescribing, healthcare providers can key in prescription information into a computing device and securely convey the prescription to drug stores using specialized software.  When a pharmacy gets a prescription request, it can fill in the medication right away. In the future, e-prescribing will enable greater pharmaceutical price transparency, higher patient safety, and enhanced workflow for practitioners. 

A compliant and user-friendly e-prescribe solution is extremely critical in today’s healthcare industry. Still, e-prescription is frequently the last to obtain research and development funding. In the ever-changing regulatory environment, this can be a significant issue. With NewCrop, you can equip your prescribers with the tools they require to make effective prescribing decisions. Ready-to-use features such as EPCS and real-time benefits enhance the value of your EHR product offering while also easing regulatory obligations, allowing you to concentrate on innovation. 

Final Word 

The ability to securely interconnect data can facilitate care at any time and in any location. When coupled with advanced analysis, digital systems can be morphed into smart systems to enhance integrated care. Integrating innovative digital technologies can help support and improve healthcare systems in diagnosis, treatment, surveillance, and public sensitization. 

While many healthcare institutions do not need to upgrade their IT infrastructure to attain interoperability, the public health crisis is far from over. The capacity of healthcare systems to swiftly adopt digital solutions to overcome the critical disruption of human operations underlines the fact that interoperability in healthcare is not elusive nor demands a large investment in new and vast IT infrastructure. Providers may address the growing need for broader data sharing by using existing capabilities and augmenting them with readily available solutions, hence improving accessibility and care delivery. Reach out to NewCrop today to chart your path towards more efficient digital health solutions. 



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