Instead of missing the opportunity to connect with healthcare professionals, key iFW team members decided to create a virtual booth. This exclusive roundtable discussion covers many of the common themes that are discussed during the conference.
Eliot Muir, CEO, Toni Skokovic, VP Operations, and Casey Trauer, Director of Customer Education have decades of experience between them in solving interoperability challenges. They offer some great industry insight into the challenges of linking disparate healthcare systems together.
Where have you seen changes in interoperability in the last 5 to 10 years?
Although there’s no question that interoperability has changed a lot over the last decade, in many ways it’s still a challenge to achieve. “We have these legacy interfaces like the v2s that are really entrenched and serve a great purpose and it’s going to be hard to dislodge those types of interfaces from the environment,” says Trauer. This is in large part due to the fact that older legacy systems can package data in a single transaction.
“A lot of the API-based approach is you get a notification and then you have to request more information, so there’s a lot more back and forth interaction that requires time and effort to implement, says Muir. “If you start to get high volumes you need to deal with caching of the data. The challenge is that this all drives the cost per interface up.”
Another barrier to adoption is that APIs are still very diverse and these integrations speak different languages to different systems even though the technology is much the same.
“Probably the most significant evolution from where interoperability is today compared to where it was ten years ago is there’s more options, more paths you can take to get interoperability done,” says Skokovic.
Even though every HIMSS seems to tout the latest craze or buzz in the healthcare industry, how data is transferred, how it is protected, and how it operates at scale, remain the fundamental concerns of achieving interoperability.
What business reasons have you seen for wanting to restrict data?
As the reach of the data expands and data format variety increases, the need for security, authentication, and performance becomes more significant.
“The whole things comes down to the overall governance of who is supposed to have access to a database and privacy regulations between insurers, providers, and primary care physicians,” says Skokovic. “It seems to be an evolving area that has a lot of requirements that we didn’t deal with back when the only transportation was HL7.”
With more options in data formats, data governance is changing not only in respect to who has access to it, but also in scope and context. Data governance becomes more complicated as the next frontier of home healthcare and virtual visits become even more widespread.
What is the future for interoperability?
We’re in a much more capable place in terms of interoperability and capability in care delivery. Even though it comes with more challenges, interoperability also provides many more options.
Value based care initiatives and incentives and social determinants of health data collection are some of the challenges providers are trying to solve. These both rely a lot on exchanging of data between providers, payers, and patients.
As the amount of data collected and data formats inevitably increases, APIs truly outperform legacy systems in their ability to scale. API exchange of data will play a significant role in the future of interoperability as providers and vendors are looking to achieve newer and more efficient ways to exchange data.
Please listen to the full round table talk and our other webinars here.