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Got Data? Open the Gates!

In the words of CMS administrator Seema Verma, "New companies are taking once trapped data and making it available for patients and innovators alike. So, we can either stand in their way, or open the gates." We analyzed the move towards interoperability and the sharing of data in healthcare in our latest blog post: 

Research firm Gartner Inc. dropped big data off of its Hype Cycle in 2015, citing the fact that the technology is now woven into the fabric of our lives. Indeed, everyone everywhere is reaping the benefits of big data and analytics and healthcare, although slightly behind traditional verticals, is no exception.

Big data and analytics are ubiquitous, informing everything from cancer treatment to hospital staffing to medical imaging. Consulting and advisory firm Deloitte likens them to table stakes, saying data and analytics platforms, “…will be the foundational infrastructure that form the backbone of tomorrow’s health ecosystem. They will generate the insights for decision making. Everything else will build off of the data and platforms that underpin consumer-driven health.”

This point of view was echoed at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s HIMSS19 conference in March. Presenters and industry pundits cited the positive movement towards opening up access to healthcare data, calling for the continued work on the creation of common standards. Those experts also reminded us that this focus on big data and analytics will take a village. We, as an industry, will need to seek out and nurture collaborations and partnerships so patients get exactly what they need: appropriate patient- and data-driven care when it is most needed and wanted.

It Takes a Village

Here at Forcura we take a similar stance, especially for those in the home healthcare world. It’s why we are active and involved in several standards groups and count many technology vendors as our partners – not our foes. We knew that interoperability was the key to serving our customers’ customers – the patients – from the very beginning, which is why we were so excited to hear U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services administrator Seema Verma’s comments at HIMSS19 around interoperability and healthcare records.

As Verna pointed out, “the days where data is trapped in unusable silos are numbered. Disruptive technology has already quietly entered healthcare, finding opportunities to transform not just the records systems, but the way we interact with and drive our own healthcare.  New companies are taking once trapped data and making it available for patients and innovators alike. So, we can either stand in their way, or open the gates.” As those proverbial gates open, as Verma says, it will take collaboration between providers, payers, and vendors to deliver what is possible for the patient.

"New companies are taking once trapped data and making it available for patients and innovators alike. So, we can either stand in their way, or open the gates."

We’re also gratified to hear that CMS is drawing a line in the sand around data ownership. Verma’s quote – “Let me be clear…the idea that patient data belongs to providers or vendors, is an epic misunderstanding. Patient data belongs to patients, period!” – demonstrates that things are going to get a lot easier for patients but potentially much harder for providers and vendors who are thinking too small or not ready to relinquish control.

Keeping at It

It won’t be hard for us at Forcura, though. Our product strategy supports this new, open vision of a patient record. Our Workflow solution is already helping our customers save time and money but more importantly, deliver better patient care. We take patient records and turn these often unstructured paper-based documents into actionable information using OCR and machine learning technology. We’re also helping folks in the post-acute market eliminate paper and fax documents from the start. We can do this by providing our customers with electronic signature capabilities, digital forms management, cloud fax, FHIR API compatibility, and direct secure messaging. We’re turbo charging what we have always offered by adding analytics into the mix, which will help organizations get a handle on the progress and performance of their own teams as well as patient outcomes. And all of this comes with the benefit of true integration with a wide variety of post-acute, acute, and ambulatory vendors.

While our collective journey as healthcare technology providers will take a lot of work, we think it’s worth it. It’s not as daunting as it may seem and there are big rewards in the end. So how do you get on the right path? Start with simple. Go after the proverbial low-hanging fruit and solve the problems that patients need solved. Be open to working with other vendors to solve the big problems together. Most important, never forget that we’re in this for the patient. When we succeed they can, too.

Annie Erstling is Chief Strategy Officer at Forcura. In this role she is responsible for driving growth and oversees the company's strategic planning, product innovation, marketing and strategic partnerships. Annie is passionate about the real impact that data and the free flow of communication in healthcare can have on improving the patient experience and driving better outcomesConnect with Annie on LinkedIn. 

Topics: Innovation & Interoperability in Healthcare

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