Why EHR Integration is Crucial for Digital Health Innovation
Last year digital health funding reached $5.8 billion, leaving no question that the potential is aplenty for ambitious health-tech innovators. Still, it takes more than seed funding to bear fruit in this market. While innovating in digital health may truly be something, integrating in digital health—well, that’s everything.
According to Catalyze’s cofounder and CEO Dr. Travis Good, establishing longevity in the digital health space will become wholly dependent on how well startups aim to integrate with existing legacy systems. And what system has more legacy in healthcare than that of the electronic health record.
“EHR integration is crucial to the success of health-tech developers and vendors. This wasn’t true two or three years ago, but it is today, and it will be even more crucial over the next two to three years. We tend to think that securing pilots is a major roadblock for health developers, and it is, but succeeding in a pilot is very different than succeeding in scaling—scaling requires EHR integration.”
EHR Integration No Longer A Luxury But A Necessity
Health providers’ preferred method of data implementation is the EHR after all, and with many EHR systems quickly becoming the backbone of healthcare organizations, the need to integrate is no longer seen as luxury but a necessity to those looking to tap into the digital health space. This is not a new concept or conquest for developers, but the evolutions of reform and increased access to apps, wearables, and telehealth innovations have brought with it an expanded view of data exchange.
For the past several years, the inroads to integration have been paved with HL7 messages and APIs. However, those pathways have proven to be less than smooth. Additionally, major EHR developers like Cerner, Epic, ADS and Athena have created open APIs and app stores for developers, but how successful this approach to integration will be remains to be seen. Now, the promise of fast healthcare interoperability resources (FHIR) is breathing new hope into healthcare’s interoperability problem, but it too remains a work in progress.
So what’s an ambitious developer to do? Good says whatever you do, don’t wait for the process or the access points to get easier, because there’s a lot more to consider: “EHR integration tends to be synonymous with message types, but if you’ve completed an integration with an EHR, you realize that it is much more of a process. It’s a journey. Message types, integration engines, and web services are one step in this process. Combining messages with programmed logic, security, and project management are just as essential to getting to the finish line of an integration.”
Big-time developers have begun to dip their toe into integration. Take Apple’s HealthKit, for example. Yet, HealthKit’s primary focus has been getting health and fitness data into an EMR/EHR as opposed to drawing clinical information out. And that’s where the buzz of the latest product that integrates with EHR systems reveals the necessity of real integration, which is a binary flow of data both to and from digital health applications and legacy systems.
“There’s more to it than that,” said Good. “EHR integration is integrating digital health products both in terms of data as well as clinical workflow. Most times today data alone is exchanged between EHRs and digital health products. This still requires clinicians and other users to login and use multiple products – both EHRs and the digital health products.”
About Advanced Data Systems Corporation
Since 1977, Advanced Data Systems Corporation (ADS) has been a leading provider of mobile Electronic Health Records and Practice Management automation for multiple specialties. We have specific systems for Behavioral Health and Laboratories as well as MedicsRIS for radiology. Our MedicsRCM is ideal if revenue cycle management is preferred.
Tens of thousands of providers and system operators rely on solutions from ADS to help them derive maximized revenue with extraordinary efficiency while optimizing the patient’s experience enabling them to stay connected using their iPads, iPhones and Android devices.