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Solving the interoperability crisis through a networked patient longitudinal record

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Every decision we make involves an element of risk and uncertainty. Whether choosing where to have dinner on a Saturday night or what to pack for a weekend hike, the choices we make can oftentimes lead to unexpected outcomes. The ramifications of such a decision become far more serious when made in the context of a patient’s health — yet these are the types of decisions physicians make everyday.

In each patient visit, physicians are forced to make diagnoses and recommendations while lacking critical patient information. The clinical “educated guess” is unfortunately endemic to medicine, but it’s a problem that been severely exacerbated by siloed information systems and antiquated referral processes. It’s no wonder that when discussing the top challenges in healthcare, interoperability consistently sits at the top of providers’ lists of needs.

This dilemma is as alarming as it is widespread. According to one study, “only 10 percent of ambulatory practices and 30 percent of hospitals were found to be participating in operational health information exchange efforts,”. With healthcare costs continuing to rise 5.3% per capita in the United States, many have estimated that interoperability could save the US healthcare system $30 billion a year while simultaneously improving care outcomes and safety.

So what can we do? With billions of dollars already spent trying to find solutions, how do you improve a broken process where so many have previously failed?

The answer lies in a patient-centered care network. Taking a patient-centered approach, which means putting the patient’s data at the center of the care ecosystem, will be the much needed catalyst for interoperability. By moving away from existing static records to dynamic records that simplify patient handoff, you’re able to give providers the most accurate and complete picture of their patient’s health.

At the moment, unfortunately, longitudinal care plans exist largely in theory for most providers. Individual care documentation remains in silos, oftentimes in the offices that created them, disconnected from external practices. Most of the discussion of interoperability focuses on the need to integrate across systems – from one software solution to another.

Instead, the discussion should focus on architecture.Make the patient record the building block upon which healthcare software is built, and systems will always be able to work together. And if these systems are architected around the patient longitudinal record, providers will be able to practice medicine and leverage technology with their focus always in the right place – on their patients.

Just as Google Docs made sharing documents seamless, it’s time we treat our patient records the same way, and empower them with a dynamic, collaborative, and real-time clinical tool that place the patient’s longitudinal story at the center of their care.

By looking outside the four walls of a practice to allow for collaboration on a cloud-based, dynamic patient record, we can elevate the patient record to match the reality of how care is delivered — a network of providers who work together to deliver high quality health outcomes — and allow it to serve as the framework for interoperability.

Learn more about what Elation’s doing to support an on-demand, collaborative care environment through our Longitudinal Patient Record.