Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become increasingly clear that the current methods for data collection exchange are not sustainable. Due to new surges of patients entering hospitals, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced that they would allow exceptions for data submissions to Medicare quality programs. But if more healthcare providers used newer and more efficient data exchange methods, the CMS may not have needed to pause their current reporting practices.
In our latest article, Iron Bridge looks to the future of healthcare interoperability and how providers can begin using more efficient data exchange methods.
Why Healthcare Providers Need to Fix Data Exchange Practices
Improving healthcare interoperability requires efficient data exchange among different organizations
Numerous healthcare providers collect important patient data and information on a daily basis. However, their current methods for exchanging and discussing this information are not always efficient. Plus, the start of the pandemic also made experts realize that these methods were not going to be sustainable in the long run. That’s why healthcare providers need to look into the future of data collection exchange in a post-pandemic world.
For instance, gathering information such as a patient’s race and ethnicity is critical for helping the healthcare system discover and address the racial disparities that continue to affect it. However, discussing this data is often difficult using current approaches. Attempts to improve the current system are often met with internal resistance or health IT restraints. This can stem from a number of issues and problems, including the fact that:
- The current process is too labor-intensive
- It already contains significant data lags
- It does not have a sufficient standardization that allows for users to rapidly exchange important healthcare data
However, there are numerous ways that health IT developers can address these challenges and help improve data collection exchange in the future.
How We Can Improve Data Exchange for the Future
Take these steps now to improve healthcare interoperability in the U.S.
Improving healthcare interoperability is critical for improving patient outcomes. By taking the steps to transform your current methods for exchanging health information now, you can start to increase patient satisfaction and engagement. Read on to learn the top six practices healthcare providers are implementing now to help change the healthcare system for the better.
1. Reduce measurement burden
Reducing the measurement burden for reporting patient data is a key step in improving data collection exchange. For some health systems, this means building a whole new system for capturing data. Because some current data collection systems are not added to the clinician workflow, creating a new system that focuses on maximizing health IT might be the most practical solution for your organization. In the future, the government might even have a hand in expediting this process.
2. Fix problem lag in reporting data
The current pandemic exposed many problems in healthcare, including a lag in reporting patient data. This lag can ultimately harm a healthcare system’s ability to handle a looming health problem like the coronavirus. To address this issue, healthcare providers can use EHR-generated data rather than claims data. Claims data does include a breadth of information across different healthcare organizations. However, claims data often create a greater lag than EHR-generated data when it comes to exchanging information.
3. Focus on data standardization
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is currently working toward improving data standardization in healthcare. Data standardization is critical for encouraging collaborative research amongst different groups. By using information from EHR vendors, health IT developers can create solutions for optimizing these data systems, thereby improving patient care across different organizations.
4. Encourage morale and interest amongst staff
Dealing with change can be difficult. When you are used to doing things a certain way, it can be difficult to drag yourself away from these old methods and learn new ones. However, taking the extra time and effort to implement new data collection methods can help reduce clinician burden and successfully assist your staff members in the long-run. Offering teaching seminars and workshops on the new exchange systems that you plan to implement into your organization can reduce any anxiety or worry regarding it.
5. Increase usability
Dealing with a clunky and slow system is frustrating. As you develop new data collection exchange methods and solutions, you need to focus on their usability. Dealing with a slow or confusing system can end up increasing patient burden, which is the opposite of what we are aiming for.
6. Use modern internet-based tools
In the past, doctors and nurses would pass along pertinent patient information to other healthcare providers via fax. However, most of society has progressed past the need for a fax machine and toward faster and more efficient methods of communication. It’s time for healthcare providers to follow suit.
Modern internet-based tools like application programming interfaces (APIs) allow quick and easy access to health information. Many of these APIs combine information from different providers in the same way that booking websites or financial tools combine real-time information from multiple locations. Widespread adoption of these APIs can significantly improve data collection exchange among different healthcare providers.
Does your healthcare organization need to remodel its current data exchange practices? Iron Bridge specializes in health IT solutions that improve healthcare interoperability. To learn more about how our advanced solutions can help you, reach out to us today.